These participating agencies say their proximity to the border is a major reason for their need of this type of training, in order to be able to fend-off the threat south of the border.
The San Juan ‘LEERRT SWAT’ team will have new reinforcements from Sullivan city and La Joya police departments.
Two and 5 officers respectively will begin training to become part of this tactical response unit.
“Our whole purpose is to focus on the smaller agencies that couldn’t afford the equipment, couldn’t afford the resources and couldn’t afford the training,” explains Juan Gonzalez, San Juan police chief.
Since its inception in the valley in 2009 and funded through homeland security grants, these forces seek to expand a regional coalition to fight the constant threat of organized crime.
“One of the main priorities is to get the training, the equipment and the right tools to respond to emergency situations, like the one we had 6 weeks ago,” says Giovanni Hernandez, La Joya police chief.
It was after such incident, where a presumed member of the Texas Syndicate gang opened fire against police, that authorities saw the need to improve coordination between agencies…
“Joining the ‘LEERRT’ team will be a lot better and as a law enforcement everyone can join and explain what’s going on and give more information towards the issues that we don’t know and joining this team, everyone can collaborate and help each other out,” says Miguel Martinez, Sullivan City police chief.
The equipment and training could run up to 10 grand per agent, however these departments won’t incur in any costs as long as they continue showing a need.
“There has to be a need for a tactical team and that’s what La Joya has, Sullivan, they are in an area that will continue to see violence and they are going to continue to see incidents like these. So, we want to be proactive and we’re equipping them at the expense of homeland security grants,” adds Martinez.
Now Sullivan city and La Joya will be the latest to be embedded along with 15 other agencies to make up hidalgo county’s regional swat team.
The 3-week training for these officers will begin in late October.