Willacy Co. Sheriff Claims Additional DPS Presence is Not Enough

4 years 9 months 4 weeks ago Wednesday, December 21 2016 Dec 21, 2016 December 21, 2016 5:51 PM December 21, 2016 in News

RAYMONDVILLE – A Rio Grande Valley sheriff said the recent placement of DPS troopers along the border may not be enough to cover his county.

In 2015, the Texas legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott authorized additional trooper positions to be permanently stationed in the border area.  They area they’ll work on stretches from Val Verde County, down to Cameron County and then up to Refugio County.

Willacy County may also be getting additional backup from DPS. However, we found out it may not be enough.

Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said the department is in need of more deputies to cover its territory.  

“Ever since the prison closed across the street, there were layoffs in the county. We lost four major slots in our department,” he said. “It’s really stretched us to the limit to do the kind of job that we’re used to doing and had the opportunity to do in the past. So, we need extra manpower.”

Sheriff Spence said an increase in DPS troopers on the streets helps to fill only a few gaps. He said troopers investigate mostly accidents, which might ease their burden of working auto wrecks.

Although Sheriff Spence appreciates the county’s DPS presence, he said having more of these troopers might upset some residents.  

“When you get a group of DPS officers like that and nothing is going on, all of a sudden they’re writing the locals tickets. They’re taking money out of local pockets and things of that nature,” he said.

Willacy County resident Connie Fitch said she feels safe knowing there are DPS troopers around her home.

“I’m glad that they are patrolling the streets and patrolling out in the county,” she said.

However, she said she wasn’t happy to learn that an increase in DPS troopers in South Texas has also led to an increase in traffic tickets.

“If you’re not breaking the law, you’re safe,” she said.

Fitch added she sees the troopers doing as much as they can with the resources they have.

Although 10 DPS troopers are assigned to Willacy County, Sheriff Spence said most of them end up working further south into the border. He said their services are often needed more on the border than the county. 

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