PLEASANTON, TX – A Senator and 27-year law enforcement veteran has dedicated himself to being a strong voice on behalf of law enforcement in the Texas State Senate.
The son of an Air Force Master Sergeant, former Senator Pete Flores was born in North Dakota and spent much of his early years stationed in different locations around the world, until his family settled in his father’s hometown of Laredo, TX.
There, he graduated from high school and attended Laredo Junior College, before completing his bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University in 1983.
After graduation from college, Flores was among only 40 applicants out of 2300 who were accepted into the Texas Game Warden Training Academy, and he thus began a highly regarded 27-year law enforcement career as a Game Warden for Texas Parks and Wildlife.
When people think “Law Enforcement,” the Game Wardens are not generally the first agency that comes to mind. However, the Texas Game Wardens have a long and honorable history of serving their communities as peace officers, while working “off the pavement.”
Flores told us that the Game Wardens were established in 1895, and they represent the second oldest law enforcement agency in Texas. The oldest agency is the Texas Rangers. The Game Wardens also represent the second largest law enforcement organization in Texas, with the Texas Department of Public Safety being the largest.
Flores also told us:
“They are primarily charged with enforcing the game, fish, and water safety laws of the state, and they are full peace officers, so in their jurisdictions, if any penal code offenses occur, they are required and trained to take care of that as well.”
Flores went on to describe the Game Wardens as complementary to rural counties, sheriffs, small police departments, and the Border Patrol, working hand-in-hand with those entities. They are also charged with enforcing all marine laws within the state of Texas, and they patrol out to nine nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, when disaster strikes, Flores told us the Game Wardens are “the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave, serving our communities.” They are critical first responders in instances of floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, and are “famous for quick reaction and training.”
Within this elite cadre of law enforcement, Flores rose through the ranks over the years, working assignments in areas in southeast, central and west Texas. In 2005, he was promoted from Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel, the chief Game Warden in the state. Flores thus also became the first Hispanic person to take this top position.
During his 7-year tenure as Colonel, Flores was able to forge important relationships with legislators such as members of the House and Senate, Attorneys General, and the Governor – relationships that were critical in garnering backing for measures in support of law enforcement.
Through legislative cooperation, the Game Wardens under Colonel Flores were able to build a new, state-of-the-art Texas Game Warden Academy to replace an outdated one. Also, Flores succeeded in building additional staging areas, training centers, ranges, and onsite bunking areas throughout Texas for his officers in the Game Wardens, as well as those in other agencies.
In addition, the Game Wardens were able to add “significantly” to their numbers under Flores, and Flores also succeeded in negotiating pay raises for his peace officers.
Furthermore, as a result of Flores’ influence on behalf of the Game Wardens, the Game Wardens were able to add additional SAFE patrol boats to their fleet for use in the Gulf of Mexico, the bays, and the border area.
What did not change under Flores’ tenure was, he told us, “the core mission and values that we’ve had since 1895, ” which are:
“Don’t forget who you are. Don’t change the product. Don’t change from the expectations that people have, that we will be there when they need us.”
In other words, despite all the changes and improvements to facilities, training, and equipment, the Game Wardens under Flores remained focused on their dedication to their close relationship with their communities in Texas. Those communities, in turn, were loyal to the Game Wardens, as manifested through bipartisan legislative support.
Flores also told us:
“We tried to ingrain that the power that you [the Game Wardens] have is from the people, and that means your community. If they don’t know you, then a lot of your work is for nought, because they have to know you….
“A Game Warden never meets a stranger.
“You treat everyone with respect and always do what you can to uphold the image and the brand, and deliver the law enforcement that they expect.”
After 27 years of loyal public service and strong, dedicated leadership, Flores hung up his hat as Colonel of the Game Wardens in 2012, then moved on in 2015 to serve his community and country in a different way: as an elected representative.
Flores was tapped by a group of Republicans to run for Senate in Texas’ District 19. He lost the election by 30 points, but shortly thereafter, the Democratic incumbent, Carlos Uresti, resigned due to bribery charges. Uresti was ultimately convicted and sent to prison.
A special election was held in 2018 to fill the vacancy left by Uresti, and Flores defeated his Democratic opponent, securing the Texas Senate seat for overwhelmingly Democratic District 19, and becoming the first Republican to hold that seat since the Civil War. Flores was also the first Hispanic Republican in Texas Senate history, and the only peace officer in the Senate.
During his time as Senator, Flores was able to act as a “voice” for law enforcement agencies.
For example, one bill that Flores passed streamlined survivor benefits for family members of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. This bill helped survivors to avoid red tape and assure there were “no hurdles” in the path to receive benefits.
Flores also successfully fought against “ridiculous” bills that proposed to take away officer discretion. As a Senator who had long served in law enforcement, he understood the need for officers to have the ability to discern the best course of action in any given situation.
He told us:
“The ability for an officer to exercise discretion is paramount, and you always have to remember, when you’re out there as an officer, you’re doing what’s in the best interests of the community, and what’s in the best interests of the state.
“Sometimes that’s education. Sometimes that’s a warning. Sometimes it’s an arrest.
“But you’ve got to have that discretion.”
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Flores lost his bid for re-election in 2020 by a scant three points, but he remains steadfast in his determination to serve his community, and thus he has thrown his hat in the ring for another Senate seat.
Thanks to redistricting, his new district, District 24, is predominantly Republican, which will undoubtedly be helpful for a successful run.
As one would expect, Flores plans to continue to be a voice for law enforcement as the Senator for District 24.
He told us:
“My heart and soul is as a public servant, as a peace officer, and so it’s something that is very important to me.
“The men and women [of law enforcement] that are in the street, they’re the ones that we’ll want to take care of the most.”
One item that Flores wants to tackle as Senator is law enforcement officer funding.
He told us:
“One main emphasis for us… will be to make sure that the peace officers are paid market value, and fairly, and that their benefits are taken care of.
“Also we want to make sure that any effort to undermine their ability to carry out their function, or to be defunded, or any of that kind of nonsense, is aggressively and clearly defeated….
“The idea of no police is absolutely absurd, and the majority of Americans are against it.”
Flores told us that he will also continue to fight for officer discretion, just as he did in his previous time as Senator.
Border security also of top importance.
Flores told us:
“Our republic is only a republic if we have secure borders….
“In my family, my father’s side, they came over lawfully. We’re all for immigration, as long as it’s done lawfully.”
“It’s the rule of law. It’s the law that should be enforced.
“I get very disappointed in leadership, especially the president and people who are sworn to uphold the Constitution and the laws of this state and the United States, when they are not upholding the laws of the United States, and upholding the Constitutional duty to protect and serve the citizens of this nation.
“You do that by making sure of the rule of law. If it’s the law, you carry it out, whether you like it or not.
He went on to say:
“And if you don’t want it to be the law, that’s what the legislative process is for….
“The border must be secure. You must have the rule of law, because our communities are the ones that are suffering. Our border towns, border cities, and everybody else are having to pick up the financial load, the societal woes that come with an invasion, if you will, of people that are unvetted….
“Who pays for it? We pay for it. That’s not right, and it’s unsustainable.”
Flores has received endorsements from law enforcement agencies and unions statewide, due to his law enforcement experience and his strong stand for law enforcement in his past term as Senator.
He told us:
“They know my record, they know I stood for them before, and I’ll stand for them again.”
In addition, former President Donald Trump has offered his endorsement, making a point to note Flores’ law enforcement background and his support of the rule of law.
Trump wrote in his endorsement announcement:
“Pete Flores will be a great state Senator for the terrific people of central Texas.
“With 27 years of strong law enforcement, he stands for law and order. He loves our military and our vets, and will fight to secure the border.
“Strong in the Second Amendment, and low taxes.
“He has my endorsement for the Senate.”
Flores humbly credits his successes in law enforcement and politics to hard work, integrity, and the willingness to learn from mistakes. He told us:
“A kid from the west side of Laredo, the poor side of town, can achieve anything in America.
“You just have to work hard, and don’t blame people for failures. You just have to understand that sometimes failures are the recipe of success, and you just have to learn from them….
“Both in law enforcement and public service, as long as you are clear, very clear, on your purpose and why you are doing something, folks will listen to you.
“And then you have to deliver the product, without compromising your integrity, or the fences, if you will. You work within the fences, but you don’t go outside the fences….
“Even some of the most powerful people that you meet will respect that.”
Flores also has a message for the citizens of this country, one that will probably seem like a breath of fresh air to those who may have lately been feeling like their voices are not being heard by those elected to represent them.
He told us:
“This is a reminder to everyone, that they must get involved, and their voices must be heard…. They have to make things happen, and they make things happen by getting involved, by letting their elected representatives know what they think, and then hold them to it….
“My office was open to everyone [as Senator], and I listened. Even if I disagreed, I listened. I gathered the facts just as I did when I was a law officer.”
“The silent majority has to not be silent. The silent majority has to remind those in public service that they are servants. They are not rulers.
“And the boss is We the People….
“The other part is, we have a Constitution, and the Constitution is designed to control government, not to empower government.”
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