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2011-07-06 digital edition

Willacy County sheriff deputies are now armed to the teeth

Text: T T
BY TONY VINDELL
Reporter


WILLACY COUNTY SHERIFF PATROL SERGEANT J.M. GONZALEZ, shows one of the new AR-15 assault rifles the department acquired. WILLACY COUNTY SHERIFF PATROL SERGEANT J.M. GONZALEZ, shows one of the new AR-15 assault rifles the department acquired. Don’t mess with Willacy County sheriff deputies.

That’s because a good number of them are armed to the teeth with a new cache of weapons the department acquired recently.

A couple of dozen AR- 15 assault rifles and tactical 12-gauge shotguns are part of the department’s arsenal to combat what sheriff deputies are calling a better equipped potential enemy.

Sheriff Larry G. Spence said the new rifles and shotguns are at the disposal of his sheriff deputies without having to go to the office when a situation arises.

“They have the weapons with them just in case,” he said.

J.M. Gonzalez, a patrol sergeant with the department, said they got the new weapons in June.

“We are raising our level of training ,” he said, while showing a brand new rifle equipped with a multi-round banana clip. “We are now better prepared because a handgun is no match to what a criminal suspect might be carrying these days.”

He said each sheriff ’s deputy goes through a 16-hour training session to be qualified to handle the new rifles.

However, training is being implemented at all levels in the department, including how to deal with people with mental problems.

Gonzalez said they will send two deputies to SWAT school in San Juan and another deputy is at a K-9 school with the department’s drug sniffing dog named Dix.

He said that by being better trained and equipped, the sheriff’s department is in a better position to combat what authorities are calling an alarming drug smuggling increase and other crime activities.

Jose Jimenez, also a sheriff ’s deputy, said the weapons were bought with grant money the department received early this year from the Texas Border Sheriff Coalition, which the Willacy County Sheriff’s Office is a member of.

“You never know what you are going to encounter out there,” he said. “We are now better prepared with these new weapons.”

2011-07-06 / Front Page

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