New JWC deputy has nothing but good things to say about Orange Grove

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

ORANGE GROVE - New Orange Grove COPS in Schools Deputy Manuel Gonzalez is the latest addition to the sheriff department's program.

Gonzalez, 25, a native of Victoria, currently lives in Alice, and said working with the students and administrators at Orange Grove High School has been a great experience.

"This is my first time working with juveniles every day. These are great kids, though, and this is a great campus," Gonzalez said. "The faculty is very good, and the town, very supportive. I couldn't ask for more."

Gonzalez has served in law enforcement for four years. His previous position was with the San Diego Police Department, and he served a year with the Duval County Sheriff's Department before that.

He has several friends in the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department, and had always heard great things about the department from them. When the spot for a new COPS in Schools deputy opened up, Gonzalez jumped at the opportunity.

Although he has no specific experience working with youth, he was trained in juvenile law at the academy, and has experience working with juveniles through day-to-day contact while on patrol.

He said there is a big difference between his work in San Diego and his position in Orange Grove, as far as towns and students are concerned.

"It's a complete 180. I don't know if it's the mentality of the town or the way these students are brought up," Gonzalez said. "I don't want to talk bad about any town, but there is a difference. Towns vary, people vary."

During his first month in Orange Grove, Gonzalez said he's noticed things are actually pretty slow-paced and laid back. He said the students at OGHS are great, and he hasn't had any problems.

So far, he's written two tickets at the campus, one for disorderly conduct (profane language) and the other for possession of tobacco.

"Other than that, nothing too exciting, nothing out of the ordinary," Gonzalez said.

Overall, Gonzalez said he has a good rapport with the students and has been told by both the public and school officials that his presence has been effective at OGHS.