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“HERE TO PROTECT OUR KIDS…”
DEPUTIES ACCOMPANY SCHOOL BUSES AS SAFETY ESCORDS
Focused on protecting children in the unincorporated areas of Frio County, Sheriff’s Lieutenant Joshua Longoria has implemented a new program that positions deputies behind school buses as they take children to and from their campuses.
Since April, and with support from Pearsall ISD Superintendent Dr. Nobert Rodriguez, deputies from the sheriff’s office have been following school buses as a preventative measure against potential violence.
Longoria believes the initiative ensures children’s safety on school buses while traveling in the morning and afternoon along rural routes.
“Our ultimate goal is to protect the most vulnerable and precious members of this county, namely our children,” the lieutenant said, “and the dedication from these deputies is unwavering.”
Longoria said the initiative was long overdue but added that increasing criminal activity in rural areas due to the immigration crisis helped push the issue to priority status.
Frio County deputies report they are responding to as many as three calls a night that evolve into high-speed pursuits of vehicles in which undocumented immigrants are being transported illegally through South Texas. In one recent incident, as many as 20 unidentified passengers are believed to have absconded into the brush.
“At the end of the day, we do not find many of these people,” Longoria said, “because our main concern at that time is getting into contact with landowners in case there are cattle that need to be secured.”
The lieutenant believes “something needed to be done in Frio County” to help protect local residents and said he spoke at length with Medina County deputies who had already begun a similar patrol program.
“We also want the citizens to know that even though we are fighting immigration crimes we are also here to protect our kids,” the lieutenant said.
The initiative has also proven effective in related traffic law enforcement, as deputies have noted a decrease in the numbers of drivers who fail to stop for school buses that are loading and unloading students.
Supt. Rodriguez has welcomed the program and said he believes the initiative has provided some ease in the final month of the academic year, as an apparent uptick in social media threats against the schools has contributed to fears among parents that their children are not safe in school district care.
Scores of parents pulled their children from school on a number of days in May amid fears related to perceived threats posted on social media.
“The safety of our students is our main concern,” the superintendent said. “It is our goal to continue to look for ways to make it a safer place for all students and to address issues that do not support a safe environment for everyone. The Frio County Sheriff’s Office is committed to working with our district to help make it a safer place for our students.”
The superintendent said he believes the escort provided by county law enforcement will provide a presence of continuous supervision and protection for students who travel to school.
Launched in the closing weeks of the 2022-23 academic year, the program is expected to continue in the new school year that begins in August.