Beginning today, the Texas Department of Public Safety is temporarily increasing its patrol presence in the Rio Grande Valley and establishing “regulatory checkpoints” to check driver's licenses and other registration requirements, according to a news release the agency issued Friday afternoon.
“Law enforcement has identified various criminal activities and unsafe driving behaviors in south Texas that has led to the launch of this short-term enforcement effort in the Rio Grande Valley,” the release stated.
The release did not specify — and a DPS spokesman declined to comment on — how many additional troopers will be in the area for how long. Also unclear is the manner of the checkpoints, how many will be in operation or where they’ll be.
“The press release describes the regulatory checkpoints and what their purpose is,” DPS spokesman Tom Vinger wrote in an email in response to a request from The Monitor to explain the checkpoints.
The full clause from the release introducing the checkpoints reads, “DPS will enforce motor carrier regulations, and will establish regulatory checkpoints to ensure compliance with state driver license (sic), insurance, vehicle safety and registration requirements.”
The release called the program a “multi-agency initiative,” during which local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will increase river, air and road patrols, but local agency heads say they are not expanding patrols.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said patrol deputies in the county’s largest law enforcement agency will not alter their day-to-day operations.
“Our folks are going to be on their regular beats doing their regular stuff,” he said.
Similarly, Mission interim Police Chief Robert Dominguez said his department would not increase patrol shifts, but would continue already routine efforts to assist DPS when necessary.
When asked to clarify what made the initiative a multi-agency effort, Vinger only repeated a line from the release that, “This is a coordinated law enforcement effort.”
Though the extent of their cooperation is unclear, Treviño and Dominguez both said they are happy to have more state troopers in the area.
“Obviously, we appreciate the Department of Public Safety bringing in these additional troopers,” Dominguez said.
Also praising the initiative, the sheriff said the strategy was tried and true.
“It’s the old increased police presence decreases criminal activity,” he said.