Yesterday, the El Paso Sheriff’s Department issued a press release on its social media page announcing that Richard D. Wiles, the sheriff will retire at the end of his current term. Wiles was commissioned an El Paso Police officer on April 16, 1982 as part of the 67th Police Academy. His first day patrolling was on April 18. [1] A little over a year after Wiles began working at the police department, he made news by filing a complaint against John Riley, who had resigned as El Paso’s ambulance director six days before. On July 29, 1983, the EMS director Riley placed a call to the EMS dispatcher reporting that a shooting had occurred at his house. As police officers arrived at the scene, Riley cancelled the emergency call stating that it was “a joke” on a new dispatcher. One of the responding officers was Wiles. He and his partner, David Conner, filed the complaint against Riley, alleging that Riley knew that the false report “would cause an immediate dispatch of emergency vehicles,” and that is why the officers desired criminal prosecution.” [2]

By 1985, Wiles had become a detective. On May 14, 1985, Wiles was recognized as the Outstanding Northeast Policeman Of The Year. [3] Wiles was promoted to sergeant in 1987. [4] In 1992, Wiles was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the Central Police Substation. [5] In 1996, Wiles was again promoted, this time to captain and assigned to the criminal investigations division of the El Paso Police Department. [6] The following year, Wiles was promoted to deputy chief and assigned to regional operations headquarters. [7]

After controversial Police Chief Russ Leach () left the police department on July 17, 1998, Wiles was one of 22 individuals who applied to replace him. Carlos Leon was another applicant. [8] On November 3, 1998, Wiles was named one of the top-five finalists for El Paso’s newest police chief. [9] The following December, three finalists for the police chief job were named, two from El Paso and one from New Orleans. The three finalists were New Orleans Assistant Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Carlos Leon and Wiled. [10] Leon was named the police chief in February. [11]

Wiles Becomes Temporary Chief

On June 15, 2000, then-Mayor Carlos Ramirez suspended El Paso Police Chief Carlos Leon until an investigation into Leon was completed. Wiles was named the acting chief. [12] Former El Paso Police Assistant Chief George DeAngelis had alleged that an assistant to Carlos Leon was working for the drug cartels. However, city officials were investigating Leon on allegations that Leon had “instructed police to lie in documents” and for backdating a document, among three other allegations made by DeAngelis to city council. [13]

While investigators were investigating Leon, an allegation of also tampering with government records was made against Wiles. The El Paso Sheriff’s Department investigated Wiles for making changes to the personnel records of former police Sgt. Bruce Fleming. Fleming alleged that Wiles had ordered that his personnel record be changed from resigning “for personal reasons” to resigned “pending termination.” Wiles acknowledged making the changes to Fleming’s personnel record to “make them true.” [14]

After returning as police chief, Carlos Leon assigned Wiles to lead an investigation into who leaked the George DeAngelis information alleging the collusion of Leon’s assistant, Luis Cortinas, with drug cartels. [15] It is the allegations made by DeAngelis against Cortinas that led to Leon’s suspension as police chief.

Wiles Named Police Chief

On August 4, 2003, Carlos Leon resigned as police chief, effective September 29, 2003. [16] The speculation was that Leon was going to run for Sheriff in the upcoming elections. Then mayor Joe Wardy appointed Wiles as the interim chief of the police department on September 17, 2003. [17]

On July 22, 2002, them mayor-Joe Wardy appointed Wiles as El Paso’s newest police chief. [18] City council approved Wiles on July 27, 2004. At this city council meeting, representatives named three finalists to become the city’s first city manager. Joyce Wilson, who eventually become the city’s first city manager, was one of the three finalists for the spot. [19]

During Wiles tenure as police chief, several El Paso police officers were investigated for wrongdoing under a seldom used court process known as a court of inquiry. The courts of inquiry were led by El Paso defense attorneys Theresa Caballero and Stuart Leeds. In addition to the courts of inquiry, Wiles “refused to criticize” the police department’s handling of a rape case in 1987.

In 2004, a court ruled that Brandon Moon was “wrongfully convicted” of rape. After serving 17 years in prison, a court ruled that DNA evidence showed that Moon did not commit the crime. Moon was released from jail after prosecutors “apologized” to Moon for the conviction. [20] In 2005, five students and a teacher filed a lawsuit against the El Paso Police Department alleging they were “victims of excessive force and were unlawfully arrested” during the 2003 riots at Montwood High School. [21]

The city settled the case and ordered a revamping of police procedures.

In 2007, Auston officials named Wiles as a finalist to be Austin’s new police chief. Wiles said at the time that although he was “flattered” to be a finalist, his “focus” remained with El Paso. [22] In June 2007, Austin’s city manager named Toby Hammett Futrell as Austin’s new city manager. Wiles was the second choice. [23]

Wiles Runs For Sheriff

In October 2007, Wiles announced that he was retiring in November 2007. [24] He was going to run for Sheriff, after Leo Samaniego announced, he was not going to seek reelection. Wiles last day as the police chief was December 26, 2007. [25] Then city manager Joyce Wilson appointed Greg Allen as the interim police chief. [26] Allen went on to become the El Paso Police Chief.

On April 8, 2008, Wiles beat Carlos Leon 61% to 38% in the Democratic Party primary runoff election. [27] On November 4, 2008, Wiles was elected El Paso’s Sheriff, beating Republican George Stoltz. 72% to 28%. Barack Obama was elected president during this election cycle. Wiles was sworn in as the El Paso Sheriff on January 1, 2009.

Richard Wiles announced he will step down as sheriff on December 31, 2024.


  1. “And now the work begins,” El Paso Times, April 17, 1982, 1A.
  2. Jeff Collins, “Police: EMC ex-chief’s call hoax,” El Paso Times, August 24, 1983, 1A and 3A.
  3. “Northeast Civilian,” Club Notebook, El Paso Times, May 10, 1985, 7C.
  4. Jim Bole, “Police officers promoted, transferred,” El Paso Herald Post, December 2, 1987, B3.
  5. “Promoted cops get new assignments,” El Paso Times, August 6, 1992, 3B.
  6. “Police Changes,” Borderland, El Paso Times, December 4, 1996, 1B.
  7. “5 Police Officers Are Promoted,” El Paso Times, October 16, 1997, 3B.
  8. Patrick C. McDonnell, “Officials name applicants for police chief,” El Paso Times, September 1, 1998, 2A.
  9. Patrick C. McDonnell, “5 El Pasoans are on list of police chief finalists,” El Paso Times, November 4, 1998, 3B.
  10. Patrick C. McDonnell, “2 finalists named for police chief,” El Paso Times, December 15, 1998, 1A.
  11. Patrick C. McDonnell, “Police chief wants to assistant to new post,” El Paso Times, February 2, 1999, 1B.
  12. Patrick C. McDonnell, “Chief, accuser put on leave,” El Paso Times, June 16, 2000, 1A.
  13. McDonell, “Chief, accuser put on leave,” 1A-2A.
  14. Diana Washington Valdez, “Old police case is reopened,” El Paso Times, June 25, 2000, 1A.
  15. Louie Gilot, “Police investigate leak,” El Paso Times, June 30, 2000, 1A.
  16. Charles K. Wilson, “Police chief resigns,” El Paso Times, August 5, 2003, 1A.
  17. Charles K. Wilson, “Wardy names interim chief,” El Paso Times, September 18, 2003, 1A.
  18. David Crowder, “Wardy makes interim Chief Wiles permanent,” El Paso Times, July 23, 2004, 1A.
  19. David Crowder, “City trims manager list, Oks police chief,” El Paso Times, July 28, 2004, 1B.
  20. Tammy Fonce-Olivas, “Assault cases may not reopen,” El Paso Times, December 24, 2004, 1B, 8B.
  21. Tammy Fonce-Olivas, “Police sued over Montwood riot,” El Paso Times, January 14, 2005, 1B, 4B.
  22. Tammy Fonce-Olivas, “Wiles flattered to be Austin finalist, focuses on El Paso,” April 6, 2007, 1B.
  23. Tammy Fonce-Olivas, “Chief Wiles will stay in EP,” El Paso Times, June 15, 2007, 1B.
  24. Erica Molina Johnson, “El Paso police chief says he Will step down,” El Paso Times, October 29, 2007, 1A.
  25. Daniel Borunda, “Wiles’ last day as EP police chief is Dec. 26,” El Paso Times, November 30, 2007, 1A.
  26. Tammy Fonce-Olivas, “Adding staff a goal for interim police chief,” El Paso Times, January 14, 2008, 1A.
  27. Daniel Borunda, “Ex-police chief is nominee for job of sheriff,” El Paso Times, April 9, 2008, 1A.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...