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MISSION — The U.S. Border Patrol and Mission Police Department started a community partnership in Madero last week to encourage community safety.
“Border security is currently one of the greatest concerns,” said Mission Deputy City Manager Aida Lerma. “This is why we’re here today, to tell everyone that we are taking a stand to protect our borders, but more importantly, to protect our citizens.”
The agencies are working to help prevent and decrease criminal activity in south Mission, along the river and in the communities that surround the area, as well. Approximately 12 miles along the border are in the Mission city limits, including at least 10 neighborhoods that are growing along those banks. Madero has approximately 1,008 residents.
Mission Police Chief Leo Longoria said his department has a very strong relationship with the Border Patrol. Community policing is traditionally left to local law enforcement including the sheriff and constable’s office, but the relationship MPD has with the Border Patrol is not traditional, Longoria said. This partnership will improve the quality of life, clean up the community, and make it safer, he explained.
“We’ve got our own unique problems, and we’re going to tackle them to satisfy our needs here in south Texas, and particularly the City of Mission,” said Longoria.
To monitor the area and answer questions or concerns from residents, Border Patrol agents will be stationed at Madero Park in an RV from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and on the weekends once school starts.
Chief Patrol Agent Rosendo Hinojosa said the law enforcement’s new presence in the neighborhood does not mean the residents here need to be policed around the clock.
“What we’re trying to prevent here is the exploitation of this area because of its location,” said Hinojosa. “We’re standing approximately half a mile, if not more, from one of our most problematic areas.”
It’s the smuggling of narcotics and illegal immigrants along with incidents of border violence where law enforcement has been engaged in firefights that have led officials to want to get involved here.
“Today, we stand here sending a message to the criminal organizations that seek to exploit this area, whether it’s stashing a load car here, or trying to develop a stash house here where they can bring in narcotics or aliens, that this place is off limits,” Hinojosa said.
This is first time a community partnership such as this is established in the Rio Grande Valley, officials said. Through this community partnership, they want to engage and help youth and encourage community involvement with community meetings, barbeques and movie nights, which are already being held every other Wednesday.
“This is your community partnership,” Hinojosa told Madero residents. “It’s what you make of it. If we don’t get to know each other we don’t get to understand what the concerns are, then we’re never going to get to the level where we need to be, which is safe and secure in your communities.”
Hinojosa said Border Patrol would still continue to do their job in the brush, along the river, in the river, and also do their job to make sure there is not an entrenchment that occurs in the community.
Precinct 3 Constable Larry Gallardo said his office is there to help the community, as well.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Gallardo said.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.