MERCEDES — The Mercedes police department has not forgotten fallen Mission police officer, Cpl. Jose Luis “Speedy” Espericueta, who died in the line of duty in June.
That was the message Mercedes Police Chief Dagoberto “Dago” Chavez wanted to convey as he, along with the Mercedes City Commission, honored Espericueta Tuesday evening with a proclamation and the unveiling of a special police patrol unit.
Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez, and Espericueta’s family — wife Roberta “Bobbie” De Leon Espericueta, and son Joaquin — as well as several Mission police officers were on hand for the ceremony honoring Espericueta Tuesday evening.
Mayor Henry Hinojosa read a proclamation officially naming Oct. 4 — Espericueta’s birthday — as Cpl. Jose Luis “Speedy” Espericueta Day, saying that his sacrifice served as “an inspiration to all.”
Chief Chavez, who once worked alongside Espericueta at Mission, described him as a humble public servant who treated everyone with dignity. “He treated everybody fairly, He treated everybody with dignity, even the ones that were actually breaking the law,” Chavez said.
With some emotion in his voice, Chavez recalled how he had learned of Espericueta’s death just one day after being named Mercedes police chief. “I was called to my (Mercedes) city phone. That’s how I found out,” Chavez said.
“He’s someone that cannot be replaced. And he will always be remembered,” Chavez said.
Chavez and Espericueta had worked together doing traffic enforcement — he on a motorcycle patrol, Espericueta in a traditional police unit, Chavez said. It was that role that inspired the idea of creating a “ghost unit” for traffic enforcement in Mercedes.
With the police department investing in the purchase of 10 new patrol units, including three Dodge Chargers, Chavez chose to use one to commemorate his friend. The all-white vehicle is outfitted with stealth emergency lights and reflective white decals.
But that’s not all. On the car’s roof, large reflective white numerals spell out Espericueta’s badge number, 350. And on the right corner of the rear bumper, another reflective white decal spells out Espericueta’s nickname, Speedy.
“It’ll be our only ghost unit that’s going to be for traffic enforcement in our city,” Chavez said.
Officers assigned to the car will patrol the city’s school zones and the highway, Chavez said.
Chief Dominguez, of Mission, said the ghost unit came as a pleasant surprise to his department and the Espericueta family. “It was a tragic loss for all of us, especially the Espericueta family,” Dominguez said. “We’re continuing with the healing process, and I tell you, things like this help us get through this tragedy,” he said.
Dominguez said the gesture shows how connected the Rio Grande Valley’s law enforcement community truly is. “That’s what it’s all about. Unity. And I love the fact that we’re all united here. And not only the community itself, but us in law enforcement, as well,” Dominguez said.