"To Protect and Serve the People of our South Texas Communities"
La Salle County
Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Miguel A. Rodriguez
La Salle County Courthouse, 101 Courthouse Square, 
Cotulla, Texas 78014; (830) 879-3044
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IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, CALL 9-1-1

January 19, 2017

Travel advisory from the Texas Department of Transportation

IH-35 southbound lanes will close nightly for bridge repairs

The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced plans to cloe the southbound lanes of IH-35 in northern Webb County for a period of time when repairs are made to a bridge.

"Weather permitting on Monday, January 23 through Wednesday, February 1, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., the IH 35 southbound (only) main lanes will close nightly at the underpass railroad crossing located at mile marker #18 in Webb County," the agency noted this week, adding that the closure is necessitated by railroad bridge repair work by the Union Pacific Railroad.

During the closure times, IH-35 southbound traffic will be routed to SH 255 (Camino Colombia Toll Road) to exit at US 83 North and then back to IH-35.

Travelers are advised that they should expect detours and travel delays and should adhere to all safety signs and traffic control devices in the area. 

For more information, contact TxDOT Laredo District Public Information Officer Raul Leal at (956) 712-7416 or Raul.Leal@txdot.gov 

For road conditions and traffic updates, follow the TxDOT Laredo District at https://twitter.com/txdotlaredo

January 13, 2017

Our Heroes will always be Cowboys...

The Cotulla High School Cowboys varsity basketball team faced the CHS Alumni team in a friendly face-off to a packed house on Friday, January 13, closing out the night with a 58-58 tied game. The event was supported by school administrators, parents and civic groups as well as the La Salle County Sheriff's Office as a means to encourage peer mentoring, community bonds and youth fitness.  
(Courtesy photo)

January 10, 2017

La Salle County Sheriff begins second term...

"We will
be ready"

Rodriguez looks to lessons from past four years
i n preparedness for the future

By Marc Robertson
The retired Texas Highway Patrol corporal aimed at leading the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office into a time of growth and change when he was elected to the top law enforcement job in 2012.

He began serving his constituents at the peak of the Eagle Ford Shale energy industry’s economic boom and has been re-elected to serve them another four years.

At the same time as he worked to stay ahead of increasing demands for law enforcement in La Salle County, Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez was seeing his community transformed and worked with a team of administrators to meet the challenges that the future would hold.

Those challenges would strike the community and its government from all sides.
“We had to deal with a huge increase in the number of traffic accidents on the highway and on other roads when I took office,” the sheriff said a week after being sworn into office for his second elected term this month. “We were still dealing with a lot of local issues, like drug-related crime, but then we had new issues that this county had never seen before. It wasn’t all good news.”

Rodriguez ran unopposed for re-election in the Democratic Party primaries in March 2016 and faced a write-in candidate on the ballot in the November general election. He prevailed in large part, he says, because his department had developed a close rapport with La Salle County’s residents and had succeeded in meeting the demands of a faster-moving economy and population shifts brought on by the energy industry.

“The days when a sheriff could employ just a couple of deputies in that old-fashioned small-town way of life were history,” the sheriff said. “The people of La Salle County want to keep the small-town way of life, which is a positive thing, and we have to protect that while the world around us is changing. Families need to know that we are patrolling their streets to keep them safe, and kids need to know that we will make sure they are safe on their way to school.”

During Rodriguez’ first four years as La Salle County sheriff, the local population grew to exceed 6,000 in Cotulla alone; City Hall estimates at the peak of the oil boom indicated that as many as ten thousand workers could be found in the city on any given weekday. La Salle County welcomed the economic boost; multiple family members were finding work, contributing to their household income; oil revenues and elevated property values were feeding the county and city with funds that would help pave streets, improve utilities and provide for better law enforcement, emergency response and local government services. When Rodriguez took office, Cotulla city councilors had approved establishing a law enforcement partnership with the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office for a city police department at a rate of $375,000 per year. The Cotulla Patrol Division is supervised by a sheriff’s sergeant and maintains a law enforcement presence for rapid response within city limits where none had been previously guaranteed.

"We had new issues that
this county
had never
seen before...
It wasn't all good news"

"We had to
plan ahead
at the same time as we
were dealing with the changes"

“It was as if the county changed overnight,” the sheriff said. “We had new hotels and businesses being built along the interstate, which meant that we had to provide extra manpower to deal with all the new traffic. On the highway, we were seeing many more accidents. Out in the field, there was the constant danger of an industrial accident that would occupy all of our forces. We had to plan ahead at the same time as we were dealing with the changes.”

The sheriff’s office grew to include more than two dozen law enforcement officers, plus the county’s emergency dispatch and a new crew of certified correctional officers to staff the La Salle County Jail, which reopened during Rodriguez’ first term. At the same time, La Salle County assumed control of the Regional Detention Center at Encinal, a facility that houses federal detainees from the US Marshals Service. In order to earn sufficient revenues to pay for its construction costs and daily operating expenses, the detention center must hold a break-even minimum of 300 inmates and earn $20,000 per day for the county. As chief law enforcement officer for the county, the sheriff took control of the facility and oversaw the hiring of all its jailers and support staff. He also had to work closely with county commissioners to ensure that funds were made available for urgent repairs to the ten-year-old detention center whose fixtures and fittings had deteriorated. 

“When we knew what we were going to be dealing with, we were able to set a plan in motion to get the job done, and I’m very proud of the administrators and staff who have kept both of these detention facilities in top running condition,” the sheriff said. “Each one of these buildings needs constant maintenance and has to pass inspection by state and federal authorities. You can’t open a detention center that isn’t fully equipped or doesn’t meet standards. You can’t allow yourself to slip. Not once.”

An industrial accident at a remote site in eastern La Salle County helped increase public awareness of the need for a fully equipped county fire and rescue service and served to justify the county’s expenditure in creating the La Salle Fire & Rescue, which now operates out of a new station on the east side of Cotulla and will soon open a substation in Encinal. As the county developed its emergency response services, the sheriff’s office kept the pace with officer training and equipment upgrades.

“You don’t train all your guys just once and send them out,” the sheriff said of the need to stay ahead of the curve in emergency response. “You have to keep up with changes in the industry and you have to know what’s going on out there. We have to work very closely with the Fire & Rescue to make sure we are all working on the same page and that we are prepared to deal with any incident.”

La Salle County law enforcement officers routinely attend training seminars and industry update workshops with the county’s firefighters and medics. Sheriff Rodriguez said he believes a close working relationship between departments is critical.

“You’re not just going out there to block the road or direct traffic, if there is an emergency,” the sheriff said. “You’re going there to make sure anyone that needs to be evacuated is safe and that the firefighters can do their job. When it comes down to it, this is a matter of life and death in an emergency.”

An incident on IH-35 during the summer of 2015, in which a gunman threatened officers and other motorists for more than ten hours before he was shot by local deputies, brought attention to the need for a law enforcement department that could respond to simultaneous events.
“By the time we had the standoff on the highway, we were already fully staffed, and that emergency showed we were ready to tackle something that was totally new to La Salle County,” the sheriff said.

"When it comes down to it, this is a matter of life and death in an emergency"

"Protecting the residents, ready to respond to emergencies, prepared to handle disasters"

“These things that have happened in the past few years have really been a wake-up call to everyone, that times have changed,” the sheriff said. “We were able to deal with these incidents because we were ready. We had the manpower, the training and the equipment.”

The sheriff looks ahead to his second term with hopes that the regional economy will stabilize, that employment levels will rise, that developers will continue looking to La Salle County for their business sites, and that traffic flow will be safer. Each factor, he believes, will affect the lives of La Salle County’s residents.

“The most important issue for us as a law enforcement department is the safety of the people of our communities,” the sheriff said. “That means protecting families in their homes, children going to school, businesses operating without fear of crime.

“Where do we go from here? We will continue to keep a fully staffed law enforcement agency that is ready to grow,” the sheriff said. “We will continue to serve the community by protecting the residents, being ready to respond to emergencies, being prepared to handle disasters, and keeping our manpower trained.

“We maintain a very close working relationship with the school district and with the agencies that take care of the children’s special needs, handle cases of abuse and neglect, and offer shelter to the needy,” the sheriff added. “We work together with the DPS, the US Border Patrol, the FBI and the US Marshals, and we are in touch with every other law enforcement agency in the region. I believe that when we work together for the betterment of all the people, we will be ready to face whatever the future holds.”

January 2, 2017

Oaths of
Office

La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez took his oath of office for his second elected term as the head law enforcement officer for the county in a brief ceremony the district courtroom on Monday, January 2, in the presence of County Judge Joel Rodriguez and Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez. Also taking their oaths of office on Sunday and Monday for new terms after prevailing in their respective elections during 2016 were (Photo above right) Constable Rene Maldonado, (Photos below, L-R) Constables Guy Megliorino, Oscar Tellez and Hector Ramirez (pictured right with new La Salle County Commissioner Erasmo Ramirez).

December 23, 2016

Bring on the smiles

Volunteer helpers for the St. Timothy's Christmas Cheer for Children and the La Salle County Sheriff's Office met at Jordan Hall in Cotulla on Friday morning, December 23, to begin their annual distribution of gifts to local children. Hundreds of wrapped toys and games were bundled into police cruisers and volunteers' cars for the charitable project that was made possible by contributions from area residents and customers at downtown retail stores. Children of all ages were given two gifts each. Distribution continued door-to-door throughout the day to homes in Cotulla, Encinal and Gardendale. The toy drive was organized by Esmeralda Gonzales and Rosario Morales for the sheriff's office; distribution for St. Timothy's was organized by Louisa Franklin and Cissy Allen. 

December 19, 2016

Christmas Cheer for Children provides toys to needy children during the Christmas Season. The organization relies on donations from businesses and community members to provide these types of gifts every year.  In 2016, the organization partnered with the Salle County Sheriff's Office to help collect donations for the worthwhile cause. Christmas Cheer for Children organizers have collected hundreds of donations from boxes that were placed at local businesses and government offices during December, including (Photos this page) the Shopko Hometown Cotulla, Dollar General and Stockmens National Bank. Pictured with business managers and staff hosting the toy collection are La Salle Sgt. Investigator Esmeralda Gonzales and Investigator Homar Olivarez.

Holiday season begins with drive

December 3, 2016

Larry Griffin, 1941-2016

On behalf of a grateful nation

La Salle County Sgt. Rickey Galvan presents Frankie Griffin with the US flag at a memorial service Saturday, December 3, for her husband, retired Texas Parks & Wildlife Game Warden Larry Griffin, who died at the age of 75 on Wednesday, November 30. The ceremony held in the La Salle County Emergency Operations Center, which is named after Griffin, was attended by law enforcement officers, game wardens and elected officials from across the region. Griffin had served in La Salle County from the early 1970s until his retirement.

Befitting the gentleman

Game wardens of the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and troopers of the Texas Highway Patrol joined the La Salle County Sheriff's Office and county constables Friday, December 2, in a lighted motorcade escort from Laredo to Cotulla for retired TPW Game Warden Larry Griffin. Officers lined the street in front of the Peters Funeral Home in Cotulla in a salute as Griffin's ashes were returned. 

November 14, 2016

La Salle County commissioners have delayed making a decision until a meeting later in November on whether to order a 90-day burn ban that would make all deliberate outdoor fires illegal.

The ban would include holiday bonfires, trash fires and campfires. Consideration of the order was listed on the agenda for Monday, November 14, by the commissioners' court but has since been postponed, according to County Clerk Margie Esqueda.

The order would be made following a recommendation by the Texas Forest Service, which determines whether conditions are ripe for fast-moving wildfires that could devastate homes, farms and other property and threaten livestock.

A countywide burn ban may also include a ban on aerial fireworks, rockets and other projectiles commonly used during New Year celebrations. Commissioners will also decide whether to ban firework sales during the holiday period.

A ban on outdoor burning and fireworks will apply only to unincorporated areas of La Salle County; the cities of Cotulla and Encinal have their own ordinances covering the use of fireworks. Violators are subject to prosecution in local justice of the peace or municipal courts.

As part of their deliberations, commissioners are likely to take into consideration current weather conditions and forecasts as well as the growth of tall grasses and brush in the aftermath of a rainy spring and summer. Those plants may ultimately provide fuel for wildfires and therefore pose a serious risk to county citizens' safety, according to the forest service.

COURT VIEWS 
NEW BURN BAN

90-day order would make all fires,
holiday fireworks illegal in La Salle

November 11, 2016

A celebration of service

The city of Encinal hosted a Veterans Day ceremony on Friday morning, November 11 to celebrate the service to country by all former members of the US armed forces. Present for the occasion were La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Mayor Sylvano Sanchez, City Hall administrators and staff, members of the Encinal Police Department and La Salle County Fire Rescue, Justice of the Peace Frank Weikel, administrators Cody Graham and Bartley Grimes of the La Salle County Regional Detention Center, and local veterans.                                     (Photo courtesy of Encinal City Hall) 

October 28, 2016

Lessons learned...

La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez and Encinal Elementary School Principal Louisa Franklin were among the speakers at a special presentation in the school on Friday morning, October 28, covering Halloween safety tips to ensure an accident-free celebration for the youngsters. Public Information Officer Marc Robertson addressed precautions that children should take before going Trick-or-Treating, and reminded them to have all candy and treats checked by an adult. Also present to help distribute goodie bags were Sheriff's Office Captain Joey Garcia and Lieutenant Mike Bostwick.
(For Safety Tips, see 'FEATURES'

October 24, 2016

Red Ribbon Week Messages

The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office, County Constable and the US Border Patrol joined forces Monday, October 24 to give presentations to students at Encinal Elementary School and Ramirez/Burks Elementary School in Cotulla with a focus on the meaning of Red Ribbon Week and its anti-drug message. Speaking on the topics of law enforcement and drug traffic intervention, USBP Assistant Patrol Agent in Charge Lee Allbee discussed the variety of tasks that agents carry out to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the United States and their other duties related to smuggling intervention. La Salle Investigator Homar Olivarez introduced students to his K9 Unit, a drug-detecting dog called Ben, who is able to identify concealed narcotics. La Salle Constable Rene Maldonado gave a similar demonstration in Encinal with his K9 Unit, Ellie. La Salle Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Marc Robertson addressed the students on topics related to Red Ribbon Week and Halloween safety. Each of the presenters reinforced the anti-drug message to students and encouraged them to pledge to be drug free, to report crime, and to set examples of citizenship in their community.

October 22, 2016

The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and the US Drug Enforcement Administration co-hosted a National Pill Take-Back Day event on Saturday, October 22, with a booth in front of the county courthouse at Veterans Park in downtown Cotulla.

All members of the public were able to bring unwanted or expired medication – prescription or over-the-counter – for proper disposal. Medication included pills, capsules, suppositories, powders, herbs, ointments, lotions, syrups and liquids. Officers hosting the booth allowed the public to drop off unwanted medication anonymously; no one is asked to show prescriptions for any items being dropped at the collection station on Pill Take-Back Day and no ID is required.

The event is aimed at removing potentially hazardous materials from homes and preventing dangerous drugs from being mistaken for other medication and accidentally ingested, and from reaching the hands of children. Last year, collection stations in the Laredo area gathered close to 2,000 lbs. of discarded medication. Pill Take-Back Day is planned semi-annually for La Salle County.    

Pill Take-Back event encourages proper disposal of meds

October 5, 2016

We teach,
and we don't forget

Representatives of La Salle County government joined members of the Cotulla Woman's Club in the county courthouse on Wednesday evening, October 5, to display a pair of red-painted silhouettes of women representing the victims of abuse, as part of October's designation as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. County commissioners and the county judge earlier signed a proclamation in their support of the educational effort, promoting intervention in abusive situations. The silhouettes are made available by the Wintergarden Women's Shelter in Carrizo Springs; one of those displayed in La Salle County represents Margo Davis Lann, 42, who was shot to death by her husband outside a Cotulla grocery store on May 27, 1997. Present for the display were (L-R) Candace Tetzlaff, Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez, Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Mary Jane Treff, Amanda Menke and La Salle County Victims' Advocate Rosario Morales. The silhouettes remain on display for the rest of the month.

October 5, 2016

Proud
in Pink

La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez is pinned with a pink ribbon by Rosie Sauceda, director of the La Salle County Nutrition Center, on Wednesday, October 5, in commemoration of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Funds raised through ribbon sales go to cancer research.                                       (Photo: Amanda Carbajal)

September 7, 2016

Our history, our government...

La Salle County Sheriff's Public Information Officer Marc Robertson hosted an informational tour of the county courthouse on Wednesday, September 7 for a group of nursing students from Texas A&M University at Laredo, giving a history of the 85-year-old building and its offices, and introducing the collegiates to the elected officers and heads of departments in local government. The students are expanding their knowledge of county offices to better provide referral and access to resources for assistance, legal advice, law enforcement and county records, among many other functions of local government, to their future clients and family members. The visit included brief interviews with County Attorney Elizabeth Martinez, County Judge Joel Rodriguez, County & District Clerk Margie Esqueda, County Tax Assessor Dora Gonzales and Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, among others.
(Photo: Rosario Morales) 

July 28, 2016

Backing the Blue

The Cattlemens of Cotulla restaurant in the historic former Gallman Building at the corner of Front and Center streets downtown hosted an appreciation luncheon for law enforcement personnel and support staff Thursday, July 28, courtesy of owner Bill Bunton and chef Anna Valle, in recognition of the work performed by the La Salle County Sheriff's Office, Cotulla City Patrol, Texas DPS Highway Patrol and County Constables. Among those present were (L-R) Deputy Elvira Gonzales, Sgt. Investigator Esmeralda Gonzalez, Investigator Homar Olivarez, DPS Cpl. Tony Ayala, KD Lopez and Trooper Julio Barrera, La Salle Captain Joey Garcia, Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, DPS Sgt. Tanner Purvis, La Salle Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson, Sgt. Rickey Galvan, Public Information Officer Marc Robertson, Deputy Joe Pargas, Deputy Miguel Limon Jr. and (not pictured) Constables Guy Megliorino and Rene Maldonado.                                          (Photo: ET Page)

July 25, 2016

Putting technology to work

Law enforcement officers from across the region met at La Salle County's Emergency Operations Center last week for a series of classes on the deployment of new body-worn cameras, which are being issued under a grant to La Salle deputies this month. The class taught by James Robert Armstrong covered camera use and policy, recording assets and limitations, data storage, documentation and camera evidence for criminal investigations.   

July 13, 2016

Moments
of silence

While in Dallas for their annual FFA State Convention, members of the Cotulla FFA including Chapter President Karina Sauceda, Marcos Trevino, Madison Purdy, Monica Martinez, Sabrina Sanchez, Mallory Garcia, Chaz Spivey and Gerardo Viesca visited Police HQ downtown to pay their respects to the fallen policemen who lost their lives last week. The students met and thanked police officers for their dedication to serve and protect their communities.
(Courtesy photos: Cotulla FFA)

May 26, 2016

It's Red Nose Day

Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez joins Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez and her staff, Esmy Garcia, Marissa Gonzalez and Lety Rios, in promoting Red Nose Day, Thursday, May 26. Red Nose Day is aimed at bringing public awareness to the plight of children living in poverty around the world. Proceeds from the sale of red clown noses go towards children's charities. The Red Nose Day Fund is a program of Comic Relief Inc., at rednosedayusa.com