By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Editor
Maddie was a rescue dog. Now, she spends her days hanging out at the police station in Galveston with her owner, Chief of Police, Doug Balli.
“One of our captains’ is on the board of the animal shelter and he asked me to foster a dog. I knew if I did, the dog was mine for good and sure enough, she is part of the family,” said Chief Balli.
Her primary role at the station isn’t preventing crime or solving crime and she does not answer phones, nor can she check in evidence. Basically, she doesn’t do police work. But she adds to the spirit of the people who will prevent crime and solve crime.
“She’s a real morale booster, everyone in here just loves her,” the chief’s office assistant Linda Strevell explained. No one comes into the office without Maddie taking notice of the newcomer.
Looking people up and down, checking them out to see if she approves seems to be part of Maddie’s daily tasks. Though she enjoys just about everyone she meets, her favorite human is Chief Balli.
Balli understands Maddie. Take for instance when she starts whimpering very loudly and shaking her head. That means she needs someone to scratch behind her ears.
As for Chief Balli, Maddie’s best friend, he has been in law enforcement since his early 20’s.
He was recently appointed to serve as the chief. He had been assistant chief and then served as interim chief. Now, he is the head honcho.
Balli began his career in law enforcement with GPD right after he finished the police academy at Alvin College.
He had gone to Sam Houston State University on scholarship for football, but he really wanted to be a police officer. “You know that five-year-old kid who just wants to be a police officer? Well, that was me. Once I turned 20, I knew I could go to the Academy, so that’s what I did,” Balli shared.
He was born and mostly raised in Galveston and spent a lot of time riding his dirt bikes, go-carts and other motorized off-road vehicles out on the island and on the mainland.
He wanted to be a motorcycle cop and for a while he served the people of Galveston on a motorcycle. Even after a couple accidents while on duty, he found his way back on a motorcycle. Then he moved up in the ranks at the Galveston Police Department and had to say goodbye to riding on two wheels.
Chief Balli’s roots extend all the way to Spain, with a stop-off at South Padre Island, where his father’s family first settled in the United States. At this point, he is a multigenerational Texan and multigenerational resident of Galveston County.
He grew up in Magnolia Homes and other neighborhoods in Galveston. He remembers running around drinking hot water out of garden hoses throughout the island. Then his mom and step dad moved to Santa Fe and his time was divided between living on the island and living on the mainland.
It didn’t matter where he lived because his daddy worked on the island, and he brought little Balli to school every day. He attended GISD schools through eighth grade, and is a graduate of O’Connell High School.
Balli speaks with pride of his father, who worked for the cable company. “My dad’s work ethic was amazing. He was always on call and did whatever it took to keep us afloat,” said Balli.
As a child he was treated to excursions into a local watering hole for a bottle of soda. “I remember sitting on a stool drinking Fresca at my step-grandaddy’s bar in Galveston,” Balli shared.
Growing up in Galveston left an impression on him, so the only place he applied for police work was with the Galveston Police Department.
Chief Balli has worked in every department at GPD. During his time with the department, he has over 3,200 professional course hours of TCOLE training. He is a graduate from the FBI Command College, and he will be part of this month’s graduating class of Texas A&M University with a degree in Criminal Justice.
As the new Chief of Police, one change he is working for is to get his officers more time training with firearms. Currently, they complete 16 hours per year of firearms training. His goal is to increase it to one hour a week of firearms training for each of his officers.