Greg Allen, the first African American police chief in El Paso, Texas, passed away on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, at the age of 71. His death was announced by the city of El Paso, which did not disclose the cause of death. However, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said Allen was in the hospital recovering from an undisclosed medical procedure.
Allen was a respected and beloved leader who served the El Paso Police Department for over four decades, including nearly 15 years as the chief of police. He was praised for his dedication, professionalism, and integrity, as well as for his role in keeping El Paso one of the safest large cities in the nation.
A Career of Service and Excellence
Allen joined the El Paso Police Department in 1978, starting off patrolling Central and the West Side. Throughout the decades, he moved up to the rank of deputy chief in charge of the Central and Pebble Hills regional command centers. He was appointed as the interim chief of police in 2007, following the retirement of former Chief Richard Wiles, who is now El Paso County sheriff. In March 2008, he was officially named as the chief of police, becoming the first African American to hold that position in El Paso.
As the chief of police, Allen oversaw a period of continued growth and challenges for El Paso. He led the department during a time when El Paso was ranked among the safest large cities in the United States, even as neighboring Juárez was turned into one of the deadliest cities in the world during the drug cartel war years a decade ago. The rampant bloodshed in Mexico never spread to the El Paso side of the border.
Allen also faced some controversies and criticisms during his tenure, such as his hard-line stance on immigration enforcement and his outspoken comments on Black Lives Matter movement. He was known for his straightforward and uncompromising demeanor, which sometimes clashed with some of El Paso’s more progressive residents, activists, and political leaders.
However, Allen also showed compassion and empathy for the victims of crime and violence, especially during El Paso’s darkest hour when an out-of-town gunman killed 23 people and wounded dozens of others in a racially motivated mass shooting targeting Latinos at a Walmart store near Cielo Vista Mall on August 3, 2019. Allen was praised for his leadership and coordination with other law enforcement agencies during that tragic event. He also received a phone call from President Donald Trump, who called him “one of the most respected men in law enforcement”.
A Legacy of Honor and Respect
Allen’s death was met with an outpouring of grief and condolences from his family, friends, colleagues, and community members. Many people expressed their gratitude and admiration for his service and sacrifice for El Paso.
“We lost a great leader today,” El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said in a statement. “El Paso Chief of Police Greg Allen was not only an incredible Chief of Police, but he was an incredible son, husband, father, and friend. He earned the respect of every officer on his force, and I was proud to call him my friend. He will be greatly missed, and the City of El Paso will be forever indebted to him for his leadership.”
City Manager Tommy Gonzalez also mourned Allen in a statement. “This is a terrible loss for Chief Allen’s family, and it is heartbreaking for us, his City family as he meant so much to our organization and to our community,” Gonzalez said. “We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Rosanne, and his entire family.”
The El Paso Police Department also issued a statement on Twitter, saying: “EPPD and the community are heartbroken over the loss of Police Chief Greg Allen. He was a dedicated servant of our community, always putting the needs of the people first. We will honor his legacy by continuing to serve our community with the same passion and commitment as he did.”
Other law enforcement agencies and officials also paid tribute to Allen, such as El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles, who said: “Chief Allen was a great leader who cared deeply about his officers and this community. He was a mentor to many officers throughout his career and he will be greatly missed.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott also issued a statement on Allen’s death, saying: “Chief Greg Allen dedicated his life to protecting others as a member of law enforcement for more than four decades. He leaves behind an exceptional legacy that will continue to inspire future generations of law enforcement officers.”
Allen is survived by his wife Rosanne, his children, grandchildren, and other relatives.
According to Pop Culture News, Allen’s funeral arrangements have not been announced yet.