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The city of Pearsall will receive a three-year $187,000 federal grant to fund two additional police officers.
The grant, funded through the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), is aimed at reducing crime and advancing public safety through community policing.
“We are really excited to help supplement personnel,” Pearsall Police Chief Daniel Flores said during a Tuesday, November 14, meeting.
Flores said the city is responsible for a 25-percent match and he hopes this supplement to the department’s budget will allow pay increases.
“I know we did that rate study but I went and looked at Hondo; they are a comparable city,” the police chief said. “And they are paying their officers four dollars more an hour.”
Flores reiterated the ongoing crisis departments across the state are facing to hire and retain new officers.
During his address to councilors, the police chief noted his department currently has eight vacancies, an increase of two from the previous month. However, he noted that his office is in the process of pushing through an application for a patrol officer.
It was during an October meeting that Flores said he believed the problem of police shortage was dire in Pearsall due to low start-up pay and lack of incentives offered.
Councilors have asked for an increase in patrol and the amount of narcotics taken off the streets before considering a salary increase.
According to statistics presented by Flores during the November meeting, offices showed an uptick in citations, arrests and the confiscation of illegal drugs. In October officers were able to remove 6.7 grams of heroin, 14.8 grams of methamphetamine, 24 grams of synthetic marijuana, 5.6 grams of marijuana, 53 Xanax pills and 71 morphine pills from the streets of Pearsall.
Flores noted the removal of narcotics comes from the vigilance of his patrol officers coupled with proactive policing.
“We have not used the canines in over a year due to them reaching retirement age,” the police chief said.
Xena, a nine-year-old canine and her six-year-old partner Diesel, are being recommended for sale due to the average working life of police canines reaching its limit at ten years.
Councilors quizzed the police chief on where the drug-detecting canines would go.
“Sargent Parker is taking Xena and an organization out of Somerset will give Diesel to a different agency,” Flores said. “He is younger and has not been worked in over a year now.”
Councilor James Leal proposed giving Diesel to the county sheriff’s office; Councilor Racheal Garza suggested gifting the canine to the school district, citing an apparent vaping crisis.
“At least we keep it in our community,” Leal said of the pair’s suggestion.