Highway patrolling continues, DPS sergeant says
Troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol have been dispatched to urban areas this week in response to a number of civil demonstrations that have turned violent.
DPS Sgt. JD Rodriguez in La Salle County confirmed Monday, June 1, that a number of his troopers had been ordered at short notice to report to law enforcement agencies in San Antonio and Austin after peaceful demonstrations in those and other cities began involving criminal activity.
The sergeant was quick to note in a second interview Tuesday, however, that the deployment of local officers does not mean South Texas highways are unpatrolled.
“The public expects us to be there for them, and we continue our patrols and vigilance,” Sgt. Rodriguez said. “We are trained in how to handle this type of situation and how to distribute our officers in the event of an emergency.”
Major cities across the United States witnessed violent exchanges between law enforcement and demonstrators at the end of last week and through the weekend in the wake of the death of a detainee in police custody in Minneapolis.
Reports of civil demonstrations in Texas cities included road blockades, marches, and some property damage.
“Some of our officers were given very short notice, if any at all, and were instructed to report to specific sites in major Texas cities immediately,” Sgt. Rodriguez said. “They are prepared for this, as state patrol officers. It’s part of our job.”
The weekend deployment of DPS troopers to urban areas is not the first in the event of an emergency or demand for additional law enforcement. Troopers have been deployed in the past from La Salle and Frio counties to help handle hurricane and flood response and relief along the Texas Gulf Coast, storm damage in Houston, and the crash of the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia across North Central Texas in 2003.
In this week’s developments, the DPS has been summoned by the Texas governor to aid in law enforcement coverage of potential civil unrest. Sgt. Rodriguez said that while there has not been a specific alert related to unrest in South Texas, he and his remaining officers are watchful for indicators of lawlessness.
“I can say that there have been no reports of violence or protest in rural communities, including ours,” Rodriguez said, “but we are trained in how to respond to civil unrest, and we join local law enforcement agencies in handling any situation that may arise.
“In the meantime, we believe the public should know that our patrols continue,” the sergeant said, “and that we strive to uphold public safety for the benefit of all.”