Federal Legislative Agenda 2017
COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Program
The City of Laredo, with an estimated daily population of 260,000, abuts the Rio Grande River and has four Ports of Entry (POE). For Laredo, its proximity to the river, the four POEs, International Rail Crossing, an International Airport and NAFTA commerce translate to it being the largest U.S. inland port. Laredo International Bridge #1 is undergoing a $27 million dollar renovation due to the expanding need given the Border influx of visitors, tourists, and daily commuters heading in and out of the country.
As it exists today, the daily threats to the border enter the U.S. mixed in with legitimate northbound traffic and exits the U.S. mixed in with legitimate southbound traffic. Traffic going in either direction brings a distinct menace to our community, state and country. Northbound traffic’s major concerns include the element of human (to include terrorists) and illegal drug smuggling and trafficking. Southbound traffic’s major concerns include undeclared illicit drug proceeds, stolen vehicles, stolen property (to include weapons) and wanted persons seeking refuge in Mexico. Any illicit proceeds, stolen property, weapons, or absconders from prosecution managing to make their way south will eventually generate or fund crimes heading back north into the United States. An illicit act in one direction will reciprocate in some shape or form another illicit act in the opposite direction.
The nation’s current recessive economic situation has impacted every corner of life. Laredo is no exception. Laredo resides in one of the nation’s poorest counties; it was identified as such even before the economic downturn. This economic reality, coupled with the reality of Mexican drug cartel crime threats negatively affecting the U.S./Mexican border regions on the Mexican side directly and the United States side indirectly, has greatly impacted the City of Laredo Police Department’s ability to maintain a suitable staffing number of officers to meet its responsibilities for combating area crime effectively.
The City of Laredo has made it a goal to enhance the quality of life in Laredo by providing optimum police services. In 1995, the City of Laredo received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to assist the Laredo Police Department implement the Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) concept. The Laredo Police Department hired six grant-funded police officers that piloted a community policing initiative in an identified high crime area with evident signs of social disorganization. After several months, community policing officers assigned to this area made such a positive impact that the Laredo Police Department (LPD) decided to adopt the COPS philosophy for citywide implementation.
Since that time, with the enabling assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice COPS funding, the City of Laredo gained 155 new police officers. In furthering the COPS concept, the Laredo Police Department added 19 officer workstations/buildings and still functions under the COPS concept; maintaining a focus on community policing issues.
To date, millions in federal funding dollars through the COPS Office of the DOJ have been awarded to the City of Laredo for continued hiring of personnel (both sworn and civilian) and for the acquisition of better equipment and newer technology to enhance Laredo's COPS model of policing. Currently, the Laredo Police Department has been awarded a Universal Hiring Program COPS grant. This award allowed the LPD to hire 22 new police officers and assign them in order to build upon and expand on the community-oriented policing philosophy.
Funding History City of Laredo YR #of Officers Funding
COPS IN SCHOOLS***
COPS IN SCHOOLS
*Universal Hiring Program
****School Resource Officers
The crime situation on the U.S./Mexico border continues to be very volatile due to instability with the drug cartel scene and hard-line Mexican Federal Government drug enforcement activities. Unfortunately, this same instability negatively influenced tourism, trade and commerce on the U.S. side of the border and coupled with the national economic downturn, has forced local government to make hard decisions to eliminate, freeze or not fund even critical positions to include those of police officers.
Laredo currently has 485 sworn officer positions. These officers have to service a fluctuating population of 260,000 inhabitants. This translates to approximately 1.8 officers for every 1,000 inhabitants. The national average is at 2.4 officers for every 1,000 inhabitants. These numbers clearly show there is a need for added sworn personnel in the Laredo Police Department. Civilian personnel are also needed to accomplish departmental needs. The work done by civilian personnel allows sworn officers to be redeployed to the streets for field duty, where their expertise is of greater benefit to the community.
The Laredo Police Department, city government and the community have embraced Community- Oriented Policing. The City of Laredo has greatly benefitted from past support through the U.S. Department of Justice and COPS funding. The Laredo Police Department has made the most effective use of COPS strategies and funding. As such, continued support, both local and federal, is essential for the continued success of our community-policing philosophy.
It is imperative that DOJ offer creative ways to help finance law enforcement services that will help maintain and support a strong stance on not only crime in general but with committed emphasis on border security and seriously stemming border violence without overly taxing border communities.
U.S. Department of Justice
Raymond E. Garner
Chief of Police
4712 Maher Avenue
Laredo, Texas 78041
Phone: (956) 795-2899
Fax: (956) 795-3120