Wednesday, May 17, 2006

11-strong Smithville police force boasts Middle Tennessee's first Hispanic chief

The Tennessean reports in this article that Miami lawman Augustin Clemente Jr. is the newly minted chief of police of Smithville. The police force of 11 is responsible for a municipality of 4,000. Clemente is believed to be the first Hispanic police chief in Middle Tennessee.

"Clemente said he was surprised he got the $35,900 job. Not because he's Hispanic, but because he is not a native Tennessean. He figured the job would go to a local candidate."

"Fewer than 5 percent of Smithville's residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, the latest figures available, and the new chief enjoys the fact he is believed to be the first top city lawman in Middle Tennessee with Hispanic roots. But he said he was not going to flaunt it."

"'I'm more proud that I'm a chief. This has been a lifelong dream of mine. I feel I have accomplished the American dream. This would have never happened anywhere else but in the United States,' he said."

Mayor Cecil Burger has high praise for Clemente, telling the Tennessean, "I can already tell he's getting things in right order. He's going to be good for the city. I mean, he was in Miami for a long time. I think he can probably handle Smithville."

"Clemente, who likes his friends to call him 'Gus,' said his family fled Castro's Cuba in 1966 when America welcomed Freedom Flights of hundreds of families from Havana."

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