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

Cotulla Homecoming Parade

The annual Cotulla High School Homecoming Parade will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 29, with a revised route due to traffic diversions on Main Street.
Line-up of parade entries will begin at 6 p.m. in the bus parking area beside the Frank Newman Middle School and on Tilden Street in front of the Ramirez/Burks Elementary School.
The parade will follow a route around both schools, traveling on Carrizo Street, Leonard Avenue and Leona Street before turning south on Kerr Street to end in the parking area behind the La Salle County Courthouse. A pep rally will be held in front of the courthouse. There will be traffic control at intersections near the route.
For information or to take part, call Cotulla High School at (830) 879-2374.  

September 14, 2016

Improperly secured children have been killed in crashes...

TxDOT hosts safety seat inspections

Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 18-24

Nationwide statistics indicate that three out of every four child safety seats in cars and pickup trucks are improperly installed by their users, leaving youngsters in immediate danger of serious bodily injury or death in the event of a crash.

The Texas Department of Transportation is encouraging all parents and caregivers to make an appointment for a free inspection at the agency's 25 statewide district offices.

“Properly restraining children while they ride in vehicles is an everyday, year-round responsibility,” TxDOT noted in a prepared statement this month. “It's also the law.”
"We are determined to educate parents and caregivers in Texas about the importance of buckling their child into the correct car seat for their age and size," said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. "It's not only the law, but we're also trying to save lives through proper use of safety seats."

As part of national Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18-24, TxDOT reminds drivers that Texas law requires all children under the age of 8 – unless they are taller than 4’9” – to be in a car seat whenever they ride in a passenger vehicle.

Failure to properly restrain a child can result in a ticket of up to $250.

In 2015, 83 children younger than 8 years old were killed in crashes in Texas. In 2014, that number was 81.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three fourths of all child car seats are not properly installed. Common child safety seat errors include installing the seat too loosely; putting the harness straps through the wrong slots; leaving harness straps too loose; positioning the chest clip incorrectly; and placing the safety belt through the wrong channels in the seat.
"Bernard in the Backseat" is a children's book now available from TxDOT, telling the story of a teddy bear who learns to feel safe when properly buckled into a car seat.
Drivers should refer to their specific car seat manufacturer's manual for instructions on how to install the safety seat, according to TxDOT. The vehicle owner's manual also includes information on the proper placement of the car seat and proper use of the seat belt or latch system.

To schedule a free car seat check with a nearby TxDOT Traffic Safety Specialist, text the word "seat" and your ZIP code to 876526. Drivers may also visit SaveMeWithASeat.com to learn if a child should be in a rear-facing seat, forward-facing seat or in a booster seat.

During Child Passenger Safety Week, a TxDOT safety demonstration van will travel the state to show caregivers how to choose and install the correct car seat for their children. TxDOT is also conducting special local celebrity story times featuring the newly released children's book, "Bernard in the Backseat." The book features a teddy bear taking his first car ride. A free digital version of the book is available at SaveMeWithASeat.com.

Call TxDOT for a free child safety seat inspection:

Laredo - (965) 712-7408

San Antonio - (210) 731-5219

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) 

September 7, 2016

New Reserve

La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez pinned an officer’s badge to the county’s newest reserve deputy, Ross Leago, in a brief ceremony in the district courtroom on Wednesday, September 7. Present to administer the oath of office for the new reserve was Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez; Leago was accompanied by his wife of 44 years, Barbara, for the occasion. A native of Houston, Leago took his training at the Harris County Sheriff’s Academy before serving 23 years as a deputy for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. He also served nine years as a city councilman for Bayo Vista, near Galveston. Upon retirement, he and his wife moved to Concan in the Texas Hill Country. Reserve Deputy Leago says he looks forward to serving in law enforcement for La Salle County when called upon by the sheriff.

September 6, 2016

Facts of
the matter

Present to greet 81st Judicial District Attorney Rene Pena in the AB Alexander Convention Center in Cotulla on Tuesday evening, September 6 were (L-R) Cotulla City Councilors Tanis Lopez and Mary Koraleski, Cotulla City Manager Larry Dovalina, Main Street Program Manager Patsy Leigh and Councilor Trish Garcia. The district attorney addressed a group of civic, school and church leaders, law enforcement representatives and members of the public on the work he is doing to combat a growing crime trend in human trafficking. The DA also listed a number of indicators that will help alert anyone that a child or young adult has been victimized. (For related story, see 'FEATURES')

August 24, 2016

We do this for the kids

The La Salle County Sheriff's Office amateur bowling team, The Gutter Patrol, traveled to Laredo's Jett Bowl North on Tuesday evening, August 23, to take part in the fourth annual 'Strike Against Child Abuse' fundraising tournament for the Children's Advocacy Center, a facility that helps address young victims' needs and to intervene in cases of abuse and neglect. Team members included (L-R) Victims' Advocate Rosario Rodriguez, Sgt. Investigator Esmeralda Gonzalez, Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Captain Joey Garcia and Investigator Homar Olivarez. (For more images, see 'PHOTOS')

August 23, 2016

TxDOT says
Cotulla Main St.
lanes will close
during repairs

The Texas Department of Transportation is advising motorists in Cotulla that traffic lane restrictions are being implemented this week while pavement repairs are made at the intersection of Main Street (Business IH-35) and Hwy 97 downtown. According to the transportation department, the project is expected to last eight months. During that time, north- and southbound traffic will be limited to one lane in each direction at the downtown traffic light. The roadwork is being performed by Anderson Columbia Co. (For related story, see 'FEATURES') 
COTULLA ISD traffic to the Ramirez/Burks Elementary School may be affected by the upcoming construction project. Parents collecting their children from the campus should avoid Main Street and use the parallel Stewart Street while waiting to join a line of vehicles approaching the school on Tilden Street.  

August 22, 2016

"Turn Around; Don't Drown" reminder from state authorities...

Weather forces temporary road closures in La Salle

By Marc Robertson
The Texas Department of Transportation reported over the weekend that a number of roads in La Salle County had been affected by rising water as a direct result of heavy rains sweeping the region during the past ten days.

Roads leading into and out of Cotulla were affected at the end of last week, with the largest number of forced closures on Sunday, August 21.

The flooding event comes at a time when all South Texas area families are preparing for the start of the new school year.

Although interstate highway traffic was not affected by the flooding, a portion of the IH-35 west-side access road was closed between Milemarkers 79 and 81 Sunday.

In eastern La Salle County, flood waters forced the closure of Hwy 97 and FM 624, severely hindering rural traffic, which was prompted to detour through neighboring counties.

In western La Salle and in Dimmit County, FM 468 was closed for most of Sunday.

With less precipitation forecast for this week, officials expect road closures to be minimized, although heavy rains in the lower Texas Hill Country are expected to flow southeast through the Frio and Nueces river valleys during the week, causing a rise in the principal waterways. All low-water crossings will be affected at tributaries; the Frio, Leona and Nueces watersheds will be awash and may crest their banks in some areas. The lower Hill Country reported as much as four inches of rainfall in as many days.

The state transportation department is reiterating its message of “Turn Around; Don’t Drown” to all motorists in the region, advising anyone approaching a flooded roadway not to attempt crossing it, no matter how shallow the water may appear to be.

TxDOT is also reminding motorists that the flooding and road closures will affect traffic from the rural areas to the interstate highway and that all travelers should anticipate delays.

At the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office, deputies are advising area residents not to approach flooded roadways even if the flooding appears minor, as water coursing over a road instead of through a culvert beneath it may be running with enough force to lift a car off the pavement.

“We don’t want anyone making a mistake that could endanger their lives or their children’s lives,” La Salle County Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson said Monday. “It’s not a matter of an error in judgment. If there’s water running over the road, don’t drive through it. There should be no question about that.

“Flood waters carry a lot of debris with them, including tree branches, fence posts and often barbed wire,” Watson added. “Children walking to or from school need to be extra careful around any areas where water has risen in small creeks. It doesn’t take much to sweep a child off its feet.”

Updates from TxDOT on any road closures and possible detours can be found on social media at twitter.com/txdotlaredo or online at txdot.gov.  

August 18, 2016

'Stop, Look & Listen' still one of the best rules...

Back-to-School traffic:
Sheriff's Office urges caution

By Marc Robertson
As students across South Texas prepare to return to class and many have already begun attending sports practice or band rehearsals, law enforcement officers are urging motorists to pay renewed attention to traffic signs, be aware of pedestrians and to slow down in school zones.

Also subject to enforcement during the new school year are cellphone restrictions on roads near all school campuses, according to the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office.

At Cotulla ISD, which has campuses on both the east and west sides of town and in Encinal, Deputy and School Resource Officer Jose Pedroza is urging motorists to exercise additional caution on roads at or near school property.

The caution, he says, is necessary because large numbers of children walk to school along sidewalks to the Ramirez/Burks, Frank Newman and Cotulla High School campuses.

Some of those children will be making the trek to school on foot for the first time at the start of the new school year and may be unaccustomed to traffic hazards. Others may be distracted by cellphones or could be wearing headphones or earbuds, preventing them from hearing the sound of oncoming traffic.

“This is a time of year when everybody needs to be especially careful around schools,” the deputy said. “Pedestrians are easily distracted, but the greatest danger comes from drivers who are not paying attention.”

Speed limits in all school zones will be strictly enforced and apply to the hours of heaviest traffic at the start and end of each school day, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies and officers of the Cotulla City Patrol will be positioned at critical areas and will not hesitate to issue citations to those speeding or using cellphones while driving.

Citations are referred to Cotulla Municipal Court; violators are subject to fines. Those who fail to make court appearances are subject to arrest at home, at work, in public places or in the course of routine traffic stops and may face additional charges.

"The Buddy System
is always a reliable
way to make sure kids
are safe from harm..."
- Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson

The municipal judge may impose a fine of up to $200 for using a cellphone while driving in a school zone in Cotulla.  

“There are many distractions that can contribute to accidents, and those distractions can easily be avoided,” Deputy Pedroza said.

La Salle County Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson added that he believes many dangers to children walking in school zones can be minimized with additional vigilance by drivers as well as by parents educating children in critical safety precautions.
“’Stop, Look and Listen’ is still one of the best rules for any children walking to school,” the chief deputy said. “Children have to be reminded not to step off the curb until they know it’s safe, and that means looking both ways and listening for oncoming cars. Wearing headphones puts them in immediate danger because they just can’t hear if there’s a car coming.

“Children also have to be reminded that walking to school by themselves is not a good idea,” Watson added. “The ‘Buddy System’ is always a reliable way to make sure kids are safe from harm.”

Parents taking their children to school by car or collecting them at the end of the day should heed traffic flow systems implemented by the school district, affecting streets around the elementary and middle school campuses in Cotulla, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Children are walking out of buildings and between vehicles,” the chief deputy said. “The first thing on their minds is going to be getting to their parents’ car. They aren’t going to be watching if there’s another car moving into that space. That’s when accidents happen.

“The back-to-school season is always one of the most hazardous, and it’s up to all of us – officers and parents alike – to make sure the children are safe,” the chief deputy said. 

August 13, 2016

The bold and the beautiful

A custom-fitted tractor rig is featured in a fundraising car show at Cotulla Veterans Park on Saturday, August 13. The event was hosted by the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club at Cotulla High School and their advisor, La Salle County Deputy Jose Pedroza, the school resource officer. Also featuring a fajita cook-off, the family-oriented event attracted scores of visitors for an afternoon meeting car enthusiasts, builders and collectors, as well as outdoor cooking and refreshments. Proceeds from the show go towards the students' activities, educational trips and promotion of the club's message to teens regarding responsible decision making, traffic safety and combating bullying, peer pressure and substance abuse. Oscar Tellez was the champion of the judged fajita cook-off. (For more images, see 'PHOTOS')    

August 3, 2016

So much to see at once...

A Cotulla youngster examines coloring books, pictures and educational material on offer at the La Salle County Sheriff's Office booth in the annual Back-to-School Health Fair, held Tuesday afternoon, August 2 in the AB Alexander Convention Center. Hosted by the School Health Advisory Committee with Cotulla ISD, local churches and community organizations, energy industry representatives and commercial businesses, the fair featured 35 booths by local and regional healthcare providers, service organizations and others with free school supplies and backpacks, information on child safety, nutrition, family health and wellness, resources for assistance, and specialized services such as shelters and law enforcement. The Sheriff's Office and the La Salle Fire & Rescue hosted booths offering home and community safety information as well as photo opportunities for the children with emergency responders, firefighters and law enforcement officers. After the children and their parents had visited at least ten display booths - collecting 'visitor' stickers and stars along the way - they became eligible to receive free school backpacks, courtesy of EP Energy.
(For more Health Fair images, see 'PHOTOS')  

July 28, 2016

Backing the Blue
and grey and black and khaki...

The Cattlemens of Cotulla restaurant in the historic former Gallman Building and Cotulla State Bank 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. Other sheriff's officers and state troopers joined the group later or were provided with meals during their night shifts.     (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 22, 2016

State Representative Ryan Guillen visited the Las Palmas Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation facility in Cotulla on Thursday evening, July 21 (Photos this page), to meet with local elected officials, nursing facility board members and government representatives as well as civic leaders for an update on the community’s needs in senior care and assisted living, and for a tour of the facility. Rep. Guillen met with administrator Matthew Sealy and addressed residents and attendees at a catered meet-and-greet function at which he expressed admiration at the nursing and care center’s amenities and resources, staff and operations. Among those present to address local issues with the state representative were La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Cotulla City Manager Larry Dovalina, Councilors Juan Garcia and Mary Koraleski, and Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez.

Keeping
in touch

July 22, 2016

County opens new park,
sports center with fanfare, tributes

By Marc Robertson
Costing an estimated $14.6 million and including La Salle County’s first indoor swimming pool as well as new ballfields and recreation areas, the long-anticipated expansion of Martinez Park opened on the southeast side of Cotulla Thursday afternoon, July 21 with a dedication to its namesake.

Celebrated for his 40 years in public service, including tenure as La Salle County judge and as head of the Middle Rio Grande Development Council, Leodoro Martinez was the center of attention at Thursday’s ceremonies. Introduced by 81st Judicial District Attorney Rene Pena, guest speakers at the grand opening included County Judge Joel Rodriguez, State Representative Ryan Guillen, county commissioners, site construction contractors, Cotulla Mayor Javier Garcia, and Martinez himself, who acknowledged the work ethic and public service that his parents and grandparents instilled in him from an early age.

Mayor Garcia noted that the new park extension represents a revitalization of the portion of town it occupies and new opportunities for family-oriented activities.

Funded with county money and revenues from a bond sale of three years ago, the project has almost tripled the size of the original Martinez Park, which is jointly owned by the city and the county. The purchase of 50 acres from the Gilbert family of Laredo for development has also allowed for construction of Cotulla’s newest fire station, headquarters of the La Salle Fire & Rescue, a facility that opened earlier this year.

Designed by architect Killis Almond and overseen by project manager Frank Rodnofsky, the facilities built by Summit Construction include the indoor pool and recreation center, a multipurpose pavilion, four softball and baseball fields, a walking trail, picnic areas and parking space. Thursday’s ceremony was held at the entrance to the swimming pool building; food and refreshments were served in the pavilion to live music. The buildings and fields were open to public tours.

Plaques commemorating the occasion and the lengthy project and quantity of work required in reaching park completion were awarded to county commissioners and elected government officials at Thursday’s ceremony. A representative of Senator Judith Zaffirini’s office presented Martinez with a flag that was flown over the State Capitol in Austin.

Also attending with members of the public were representatives of other city and county governments, Encinal Mayor Sylvano Sanchez, justices of the peace, community leaders, Cotulla ISD, members of the La Salle Fire & Rescue and the Cotulla Volunteer Fire Department, the Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Rangers, the US Border Patrol, county constables and the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office.   

“I think what people will take away from this is that La Salle County has finally been able to make a reality of its dream of providing a true family facility,” the county judge said after the event. “Future generations of La Salle County children will look back on their lives with this park being at the center of many activities they were involved in.

“European cities are very accustomed to having park space, recreation facilities and open areas for family activities,” Judge Rodriguez said. “For a long time, it was something that the people of small South Texas communities could only wish for.”
(Photos this page) The $14.6 million Martinez Park Sports & Recreation Center includes La Salle County's first indoor public swimming pool; former County Judge Leodoro Martinez was the guest of honor at the grand opening ceremony Thursday, July 21; the official ribbon cutting for the facility was undertaken by (L-R) County Commissioners Rene Benavidez and Raul Ayala, County Judge Joel Rodriguez, Leodoro Martinez, County Commissioners Abel Gonzalez and Jack Alba, State Rep. Ryan Guillen and District Attorney Rene Pena.
For more images of the park grand opening, see 'PHOTOS'

July 15, 2016

Pinning the badge

La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez is joined by Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez on Thursday, July 14 in administering the oath of office to the county's newest reserve deputy, Armando Lopez. The San Antonio native who began serving La Salle County this week is a 1998 graduate of the Police Academy at San Antonio College, is a graduate of Texas A&M University at San Antonio and has served as an officer in Bexar County, in Dilley and with the Frio County Sheriff's Office.

July 14, 2016

The 'Thin Blue Line'
prevails

Former La Salle County Sheriff and current technology advisor Victor Villarreal (Left photo) and Investigator Homar Olivarez were among those giving public addresses during a special ceremony in front of the county courthouse on Thursday morning, July 14, to honor the memory of officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The event served as recognition of all law enforcement officers and emergency responders but also gave focus to five police officers who were killed in a single night in Dallas the previous week.
(For more images, see 'PHOTOS')

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)

July 8, 2016

Statement from the La Salle County Sheriff's Office
in the wake of gun violence in the United States

It is with great sadness that we learn of the loss of so many lives in this country at the hands of so few whose evil intentions have brought violence and fear to our cities and towns.

We grieve over the loss of civilian lives and hope that investigations into their deaths will be exercised with fairness and that justice will prevail.

We are deeply saddened at the loss on Thursday night, July 7, of law enforcement officers’ lives, and even though it was through coordinated action by other officers and a specially trained response team that the firefight was brought to a swift and irreversible conclusion, it was officers protecting civilians engaged in a peaceful demonstration who found themselves in the crosshairs and who ended the day as victims in the line of duty.

At the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office, we offer our deep condolences to the families and loved ones of the fallen and hope that this nation’s collective grief and support will provide some measure of comfort to those who have been left behind by this terrible tragedy and who must face the rest of their lives without their loved ones and protectors by their side.

As officers of the law, sworn to protect and defend the people’s rights, safety and liberty, we are more aware today than at any time in our history that no amount of grief and no number of tears will ever bring back those we have lost but may, in the fullness of time, serve as a measure by which we conduct our daily lives, treat our fellow Americans, and teach today’s and future generations the sanctity of human life; a gauge by which we hold the value of community and the true weight of the sacrifice that our fallen comrades have made.

It can only be through continuing to uphold the law as it is written, to protect and to serve the people of our communities and to defend the rights of our citizens to live in peace and brotherhood as one nation that we can do justice to the fallen and ensure that their lives were not given in vain.  

Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez
and all of the law enforcement officers,
administration and staff
of the La Salle County Sheriff's Office

June 24, 2016

That's the way it is

81st Judicial District Attorney Rene Pena addresses attendees at a seminar on human trafficking and investigation, Friday, June 24 at the Talbert L Bar Ranch. The course, hosted by the DA and presented by San Antonio Police Sgt. Bill Grayson and prosecutor Tina Hartman, covered different aspects of human trafficking of immigrants and US residents and citizens in forced-labor enslavement and in the sex trade, including abuse of minors for profit and ways in which law enforcement may intervene and help rescue victims from their controlling handlers.
(For related story, see 'FEATURES') 

June 20, 2016

Going once, going twice...

La Salle County Sergeant Rickey Galvan takes bids from the public at the Sheriff's Auction on Friday, June 17 at the county impound yard on North Main Street in Cotulla, where 27 cars, trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles as well as some decommissioned service trucks from La Salle County precincts were sold. The majority of the vehicles had been abandoned by their owners or had been seized by the sheriff's office. Receipts for the 45-minute event totaled approximately $24,000 after wrecker fees had been settled; funds generated through the public auction are used by the La Salle County Sheriff's Office for equipment purchases and other operations expenses.
(For more pictures, see 'PHOTOS')

June 17, 2016

A statement from the Sheriff

K-9 Ledger:
Respectful burial
after a valued
service career

To the People of La Salle County:

The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office applauds the citizenship and community action by one of the county’s young residents in circulating a petition to honor K-9 Ledger, who died on May 29 this year. We are grateful to this student for helping to promote awareness of the service and valor of a specially trained dog assigned to our law enforcement agency and his recent loss.

K-9 Ledger began his service in La Salle County in May 2015. Funding for the drug-detecting dog came from the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office with monies seized in drug traffic interception and enforcement; and from his handler, who covered a large portion of the expense and who was given full custody of the dog.

K-9 Ledger was one of three specially trained drug-detecting dogs serving in La Salle County. His loss in a tragic accident last month may be measured in relation to the many ways in which he benefited our county but should also be measured in the deep affection and respect that all law enforcement officers have for K-9 Units and their faithful and obedient duty.   

During his career with the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office, K-9 Ledger took part as a valuable asset in at least 45 cases involving drug searches, seizures and arrests. It is due to his skill that we have been able to intercept drug traffickers and dealers who might otherwise have committed further crimes against the people of La Salle County and elsewhere.

There is no provision in La Salle County for the burial of a service dog and there are no guidelines or formal procedures ordered for such an event in the operations manuals at the Sheriff’s Office, and so an occasion of this nature should be and has been handled with an observance in keeping with a range of recommended protocols, some of which have been adopted as policy by other government agencies, and all of which ask that the K-9 handler’s wishes be taken into consideration.

K-9 Ledger has been buried on private property in accordance with his handler’s wishes, and he has been buried with respect and with recognition of his value to the sheriff’s office as well as the esteem and deep affection with which he was held by his fellow officers, his handler and family. An honorable burial ceremony was held quietly in the company of friends and loved ones, again in accordance with his handler’s wishes and in keeping with the respect that Ledger earned during the year in which he served the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office.

We are reassured that K-9 Ledger was buried with respect and honor, and that an American flag marks his final resting place as a symbol of his service and benefit to the nation in our ongoing war on drug trafficking.

Miguel A. Rodriguez
La Salle County Sheriff

June 15, 2016

Worthy cause

La Salle County Deputy Jose Cardenas III was one of several officers representing local law enforecement agencies and emergency responders taking part in the fundraising 'Tip a Cop' program at El Charro Restaurant in Cotulla on Wednesday, June 15 for the benefit of Special Olympics Texas. All those taking part in the event helped deliver menus, water, iced tea and other refreshments, and brought appetizers and meals to customers. In return, customers made contributions to Special Olympics, either by donating cash or buying t-shirts. Held for the first time in La Salle this year, 'Tip a Cop' raised over $1,600 that will go directly to helping young athletes with special needs train for and compete in events at Arlington. Agencies represented at El Charro for the lunchtime fundraiser included the La Salle County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, the US Border Patrol, La Salle County Fire & Rescue and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.                         (For more information and pictures, see 'PHOTOS')     

June 14, 2016

Sheriff's Office closes investigation into K-9's death
By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has concluded an internal investigation into the death of its K-9 Unit, a specially trained drug-detecting dog assigned to duty with a county sergeant.

In strict accordance with policy, the Sheriff’s Office declined to make a statement regarding the incident involving the K-9 Unit’s death until the investigation ended.

The investigation has been reviewed by a Texas Ranger and has been closed by order of Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, who is issuing a report that includes responses to a number of inquiries from the public.

The investigation has found no evidence of foul play contributing to the dog’s death.

K-9 Ledger died shortly before 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 29, 2016, while in a parked vehicle outside the La Salle County Courthouse. The vehicle is a 2013 Dodge Charger sedan equipped with an animal pen in its back-seat area and additional safety features that allow its air conditioning to continue running and its windows to open automatically in the event of a heat emergency. The animal pen includes a pass-through hatch that allows the dog to gain access to the vehicle’s front seats.

K-9 Ledger had been assigned to duty in La Salle County in May 2015 under the direct supervision of Sgt. Richard Gonzales, who also paid for the dog’s upkeep. Both the officer and the K-9 Unit had been trained for specialized service in the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office; Sgt. Gonzales had been certified as a K-9 Unit handler and was given full custody of the dog. The dog had been provided to La Salle County by Combat K-9 and funded by the Sheriff’s Office and Sgt. Gonzales himself.

During his year of service to La Salle County, K-9 Ledger contributed to at least 45 cases involving searches, seizures of narcotics and arrests.

The investigation has revealed that Sgt. Gonzales had parked his specially equipped patrol vehicle behind the La Salle County Courthouse and that the vehicle’s engine had been left running, in accordance with policy, in order to provide appropriate air conditioned ventilation for the dog. Accommodations for the dog in the car included food and water.

The investigation has found that the Dodge Charger’s remaining fuel supply was inadequate for the vehicle engine to continue running for the length of time that Sgt. Gonzales was inside the courthouse. Records indicate the sergeant had refueled the vehicle two days previously and that he had driven approximately 100 miles between refueling and parking the vehicle at the courthouse.

GPS monitoring of the patrol vehicle indicates that the Dodge Charger’s engine stopped running at 3:42 p.m.

Statements provided by officers who witnessed the discovery of the deceased dog have indicated that K-9 Ledger was found lying on the vehicle floor in front of the driver’s seat and that the dog’s head was resting on the vehicle’s gas pedal. The officers have independently given corroborating statements indicating that Sgt. Gonzales noticed on his way out of the courthouse that the patrol vehicle’s engine had stopped running. Officers who were at the scene have also confirmed that the patrol vehicle would not start and that it appeared to have run out of fuel.

The investigation cannot show conclusively that K-9 Ledger accidentally depressed the gas pedal in the car, accelerating the engine and thereby increasing the vehicle’s fuel consumption.  

The investigation has found that the vehicle’s heat alarm system did not operate when the engine and air conditioning stopped running.

Sgt. Gonzales notified his superior officers of the incident within a short time of the dog’s death and proceeded to arrange a burial on private property. There is no requirement in the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office policy that a necropsy be performed on a K-9 Unit.

In response to public inquiry, the Sheriff’s Office confirms that there is no provision in county policy regarding funerals for K-9 Units, and there is no requirement that a formal ceremony be held for a K-9 that did not die in the line of duty. Furthermore, there is no set policy with directives for the burial of a K-9 and there are no procedural guidelines for the interment of, or a memorial ceremony for, a K-9 Unit.

The investigation has found that Sgt. Gonzales contacted the local animal control officer regarding K-9 Ledger’s death, but that he decided upon the control officer’s arrival at the courthouse that K-9 Ledger should be accorded a burial rather than disposal by the animal control officer.

“K-9 Ledger was a hardworking and valuable member of this law enforcement agency,” Sheriff Rodriguez said. “He was relied upon by us and other agencies for his drug-detecting capabilities, enabling us to intercept smugglers and seize contraband before it could reach the streets of our communities.

“We greatly valued K-9 Ledger’s contributions to the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and feel his loss deeply,” the sheriff said. “K-9 Ledger was buried in accordance with his handler’s wishes and with the respect that he deserved.”

The sergeant was not placed on administrative leave from the sheriff’s office during the course of the investigation. A decision on disciplinary action will be forthcoming at the sheriff’s discretion.

June 3, 2016

Expect the unexpected...

Employees of Plains All American work together in an emergency action as part of  a tabletop drill at the AB Alexander Convention Center in Cotulla on Friday, June 3, deploying their resources in response to a scenario in which thousands of gallons of volatile oilfield material leak into the Nueces River, threatening the safety of area residents and travelers. The La Salle County Sheriff's Office took part in the drill, adding resources and information on its response capabilities in the event than an evacuation was called for.
(For related story and photos, see 'FEATURES')

June 1, 2016

Help us support Special Olympics Texas...

La Salle 'Tip-a-Cop' collects donations June 15

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office will join other agencies and emergency responders in collecting contributions for Special Olympics Texas through the ‘Tip-a-Cop’ program at El Charro Restaurant in Cotulla from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 15.

All community members are invited to help support Special Olympics athletes in training and competition by making donations to the program on that day.

Officers, firefighters, agents and troopers will act as waiters in the restaurant, serving tea and other drinks to customers at their tables. In exchange, customers are invited to drop donations to Special Olympics in designated envelopes or leave them with event organizers.

The ‘Tip-a-Cop’ program is organized in conjunction with the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, which was held through South Texas on Wednesday, March 25, as officers, jailers and emergency responders carried the Special Olympics torch from Laredo to San Antonio. Torch bearers passed through downtown Cotulla, Dilley and Pearsall before handing off to other participants for the trek through Medina, Atascosa and Bexar counties. High school students helped support the Special Olympics awareness effort by running alongside the officers through each town.

El Charro Restaurant at 656 North Baylor Street near the IH-35 access road in Cotulla has agreed to support the Special Olympics Texas program by hosting ‘Tip-a-Cop’ on the scheduled date.

“We are very grateful to the restaurant for allowing us to hold this very worthwhile fundraiser here,” La sale County Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson said this week. “But most importantly, we are thankful to all the folks who will help support these young athletes in Special Olympics by making donations during ‘Tip-a-Cop.’ This will be a fun event, and we look forward to seeing everyone there.

“After all, it’s not every day that you have a uniformed officer serve you iced tea, is it?” the chief deputy said. “We are happy to be a part of this and to help out in any way we can.”

Officers in the Dilley area will take part in 'Tip-a-Cop' at Millie's Mexican Restaurant on the IH-35 access road from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 17. Officers in the Pearsall area will take part in the program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at Garcia's Bar & Grill, 205 South Oak Street, in downtown Pearsall.

All proceeds from the charitable fundraisers go to Special Olympics Texas, a year-round movement that provides sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual or physical disabilities.   

"We are thankful to all the folks who will help support these young athletes"
- Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson

June 1, 2016

Welcome
to South Texas

La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez welcomes newly arrived Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Sergeant Tanner Purvis to the county courthouse on Wednesday, June 1. The new sergeant will oversee the Highway Patrol troopers stationed locally and comes to La Salle County from Zapata, where he served in the same capacity. Prior to earning his promotion, he served as a Highway Patrol trooper in Eden.  

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 
The office of Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez is encouraging La Salle County residents to help relieve children's poverty by making county officials aware of family situations in which local youngsters may lack healthy food or good clothing; JP Rodriguez reports that she has access to resources and other assistance to help meet children's essential needs.
"We don't want any child to go hungry, and we don't want any child to be short of clothes and shoes," the judge said on Red Nose Day, Thursday, May 26, a day on which attention is drawn to children's needs around the world. "Here in La Salle County, we not only have the means to help our neighbors, we have an obligation to help in any way that we can, for the sake of the children of our communities."
Anyone with information on families with needy children should visit the JP at her office on Center Street, beside Cotulla Veterans Park downtown.  

May 25, 2016

Proud runners

The La Salle County Sheriff's Office and County Constables took part Wednesday morning, May 25 in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, in which high school students joined jailers, officers and emergency responders in carrying the Special Olympics torch through Cotulla on one of the stages between Laredo and San Antonio.
(For more images, see 'PHOTOS')

May 25, 2016

New officer on premises

Veronica Hernandez has been promoted to Lieutenant at the La Salle County Regional Detention Center in Encinal and received her new rank bar for her uniform by Jail Administrator Cody Graham and Captain Delma Romo. 

May 19, 2016

Red and Blue Salute...

The La Salle County Sheriff's Office provided an escort Thursday, May 19 from the county line at Webb as far as the county line at Frio along IH-35 for a convoy that included a charter bus of World War II armed forces veterans from Laredo. The 'Honor Flight' trip was then escorded by officers from each of the counties it crossed en route to San Antonio.

May 18, 2016

UPDATE, MAY 18: Due to inclement weather, road hazards and potential flash flooding in Webb and La Salle counties Wednesday evening, the Law Enforcement Candlelight Vigil at Laredo Energy Arena has been canceled.

US President proclaims Police Week for May 15-21

Present at the La Salle County Courthouse for a staff meeting during Police Week were (L-R) Deputy Mike Hernandez, Sergeant Investigator Esmeralda Gonzalez, Deputy Israel Cantu, Deputy Juan Mirelez, Deputy Joe Pargas, Sergeant Richard Gonzales, Deputy Leo Martinez, Deputy Jose Avila, Deputy Elvira Gonzales, Lieutenant Joey Garcia, Deputy Daniela Flores, Sergeant Rickey Galvan, Deputy Miguel Limon, Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Corporal Anthony Zertuche, Deputy Eddie DeLeon, Deputy Jose Pedroza, Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson, Deputy Jose Cardenas III, Investigator Homar Olivarez and Deputy Enrique Velez.  
By Marc Robertson
Law enforcement representatives from sheriff’s offices, police departments, constabularies, state and federal agencies will meet this week for a candlelight vigil at the Laredo Energy Arena to commemorate Police Week and to pay respect to all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

US President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation marking May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and dedicating the period through May 21 as Police Week.

“For generations, the brave women and men of our nation's law enforcement have answered the call to serve and protect our communities,” the President noted in his proclamation. “Enduring long shifts in dangerous and unpredictable circumstances, our nation's peace officers embody the courage and honor that represent the best of America.

“On Peace Officers Memorial Day and during Police Week, we express our gratitude for the selfless public servants who wear the badge and put themselves in harm's way to keep us safe, and we pay respect for those who lost their lives in the line of duty,” the President said.

The arena event will include law enforcement officers from across the region, with Laredo, Webb County, La Salle County and Texas Highway Patrol officers as well as elected officials, administrators and representatives of several other agencies in attendance. Guest speakers, a memorial candle lighting ceremony, and a phalanx of uniformed officers with their lighted patrol units will be highlights of the evening commemoration.

“In moments of danger and desperation, the first people we turn to are law enforcement officers,” President Obama said. “These often unsung heroes risk their lives and sacrifice precious time with loved ones so their fellow Americans can live in peace and security. But more than that, they are leaders in their communities, serving as mentors, coaches, friends, and neighbors - working tirelessly each day to ensure that the people they serve have the opportunities that should be afforded to all Americans. 
“In honor of all they do, we must give these dedicated professionals the support and appreciation they deserve,” the President said. “My administration continues to work to ensure police departments and other law enforcement agencies throughout our country have the resources required to hire, train and retain officers, provide officers with modern and necessary equipment, and utilize technology to enhance their communication networks. Our Federal law enforcement officers regularly partner with their state and local counterparts to address some of our nation's most difficult problems. 

“We know that strong community bonds are essential for law enforcement to do their jobs effectively,” President Obama said, adding that he established a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, “bringing together law enforcement, academia, youth, civil rights and community leaders to provide concrete recommendations to enhance public safety while building community trust.” 

“Law enforcement officials care deeply about their communities, and together with our partners in law enforcement, we must work to build up our neighborhoods, prevent crime before it happens, and put opportunity within reach for all our people,” the President’s proclamation read.

“Each fallen peace officer is one too many,” President Obama said of the loss of law enforcement officers in the line of duty and the principal purpose of the Police Week Commemoration. The President signed bipartisan legislation in 2015 to enact the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National ‘Blue Alert’ Act, establishing communications network to disseminate information about threats to officers. The legislation seeks to ensure that appropriate steps can be taken as quickly as possible to provide for an officer's safety. The President has also promoted what he describes as “common-sense gun safety reforms to help keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

“The already dangerous job of an officer is far more dangerous than it should be because it remains too easy for criminals and people who are a danger to others or themselves to have access to guns,” the President said.

“It takes a special kind of courage to be a peace officer,” President Obama’s proclamation for the week read. “Whether deputies or detectives, tribal police or forest service officers, beat cops or federal agents, we hold up those who wear the badge as heroes. Though they too often spend their days witnessing America at its worst, in their extraordinary examples, we see America at its best. On this day and throughout this week, let us celebrate those who nobly serve each day - and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice - to move our world toward a more just and safe tomorrow. 

“May we carry forward their brave and selfless spirit as we keep working together to shape a future worthy of their commitment.”

May 17, 2016

Welcome to the force...

La Salle County Deputy Jose Cardenas III became the newest officer for La Salle County on Tuesday morning, May 17 when he took the oath of office, which was administered by Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez and Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez in the district courtroom. Deputy Cardenas is a native of Laredo and previously served as a patrol officer for the Laredo Independent School District Police Department. He is a 2013 graduate of the Laredo Community College South Border Regional Police Academy. Sheriff Rodriguez pinned the new officer's badge at the brief ceremony.

May 6, 2016

Click It or Ticket...

La Salle receives TxDOT grant to support seatbelt campaign

By Marc Robertson
The La Salle County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded a grant that will pay for officers’ overtime hours in enforcing the state’s seatbelt laws, focusing on the weeks surrounding the Memorial Day holiday, a popular time for travel.

According to Texas Department of Transportation regional director Melisa Montemayor, speaking at the funding award ceremony in Laredo last week, a percentage of Texans continue to violate the state’s seatbelt laws despite continued enforcement by the Texas Highway Patrol, sheriff’s deputies and local police. Montemayor noted that while seatbelt law compliance has improved in recent years, those who do not wear seatbelts or who fail to secure their children properly in safety seats are endangering their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Montemayor was joined by Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz and leading law enforcement and emergency response personnel at the Laredo Energy Arena on Thursday, May 5 to announce the 2016 ‘Click it or Ticket’ enforcement campaign and to encourage all area agencies to promote compliance.

‘Click it or Ticket… or Worse’ was the theme of last week’s announcement attended by representatives of the Webb County Sheriff’s Office and constables, the Laredo Police Department, the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol; justices of the peace, firefighters and paramedics from the border area; and media representatives. Grants to law enforcement agencies were announced in front of a mock-up of a vehicle dashboard and shattered windshield, emphasizing the harmful and often fatal consequences of not wearing a seatbelt.

Representing the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office at the event was Lieutenant Joey Garcia, who said a strict enforcement policy will be enhanced by the TxDOT grant.

This year’s award marks the first time that TxDOT has made funds available to La Salle County to supplement officers’ salaries for overtime hours in seatbelt enforcement.

Under Texas law, all occupants of a vehicle are required to wear seatbelts at all times and all children must be properly secured in safety seats appropriate for their age and size. Shoulder- and lap-belts must be worn correctly by all vehicle occupants. Rear-facing child safety seats must not be used in the front seat of a vehicle. Information on proper child safety seat installation is available free of charge from the Texas Department of Transportation. Child safety seats are available free or at reduced cost for eligible applicants through the transportation department and are often distributed at public events.

“The number of times we meet drivers who aren’t wearing seatbelts or who allow their children to climb around on the seats in a moving vehicle is something of great concern to us,” Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez said of some drivers’ continued violation of the law. “It takes only a few seconds to put on a seatbelt, and those few seconds can save your life or the life of your child.”
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz (Photos this page, from above) addresses law enforcement officers and emergency responders at the Texas Department of Transportation's grant award ceremony in front of Laredo Energy Arena on Thursday, May 5 for the statewide 'Click It or Ticket' seatbelt enforcement campaign. Reminding officers of the need for continued enforcement was Melisa Montemayor, TxDOT regional director. Laredo Police Chief Ray Garner spoke of the need for rigorous enforcement. (Photos at left) La Salle Sheriff's Office Lt. Joey Garcia was present to accept the grant on behalf of his officers; and Webb County Chief Deputy Fred Garza likewise discussed the importance of the seatbelt enforcement.    
 “Click It or Ticket.” It’s simple, it’s the law and it’s a reminder from the Texas Department of Transportation that seat belts save lives.

“With Memorial Day weekend and the summer vacation season approaching, we’re urging people to buckle their seat belts every time they get in their vehicle,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Every person in a vehicle – front seat or back seat – needs to buckle up. Not only is it the law, but seat belts save lives.”

Last year in Texas, 2,370 vehicle crashes involving unrestrained occupants resulted in 889 fatalities and 1,854 serious injuries. Wearing a seat belt helps keep occupants from being ejected in a crash and increases the chances of surviving by 45 percent. In pickup trucks, that number jumps to 60 percent, as those vehicles are twice as likely as cars to roll over in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that since its inception, the “Click It or Ticket” campaign in Texas has resulted in 4,687 fewer traffic fatalities while preventing 79,578 serious injuries. When the “Click It or Ticket” campaign launched in 2002, only 76 percent of Texans used their seat belts. Today, 9 out of 10 Texans buckle up.

Along with TxDOT’s annual, statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign and awareness tour, police departments across the nation will step up enforcement efforts from May 23 – June 5. In Texas, the law requires everyone in a vehicle to buckle up or face fines and court costs up to $200. Children younger than 8 years old must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re taller than 4 feet 9 inches.

May 5, 2016

We stand together...

La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez addressed a gathering of local residents and community leaders on the courthouse lawn Thursday evening, May 5, during the annual celebration of the National Day of Prayer, to which congregation members and church leaders of all denominations were invited. The event served as a faith revival as well as a communal offering of prayer for families, government leaders, law enforcement officers, armed forces personnel and veterans, and featured special music, addresses by Cotulla Mayor Joe Lozano and Chamber of Commerce President Brenda Talbert Wright as well as rallies to prayer by pastors from each of Cotulla's churches.
(For more images, see 'PHOTOS') 

May 5, 2016

Sounds of celebration

Cotulla High School Mariachi Band students Alyssa Miranda and Anthony Jennings are among those performing on a float through downtown Encinal on Thursday afternoon, May 5 for the city's annual Cinco de Mayo parade, which included more than 50 entries representing civic and student groups, local government, city and county law enforcement, armed forces veterans, farmers and ranchers, area businesses and healthcare organizations. The parade followed a southbound route from Old Hwy 81 to Encinal Veterans Park; the Union Pacific Railroad agreed to halt its train operations through the city for the duration of the event.
(For more images, see 'PHOTOS')

May 4, 2016

A time to be wise

The Medina Electric Cooperative dispatched a demonstration team with instructor Derly Carrizales to Cotulla on Wednesday, May 4 to give a workshop on electrical safety to firefighters and paramedics in the La Salle Fire & Rescue as well as members of the sheriff's office (Photos this page). Special attention was given to accident and emergency cases, notably incidents in which electrical power lines may be brought down in an accident or as the result of a storm or other disaster, when responders are called upon to rescue trapped motorists or gain access to homes. Classroom instruction at the La Salle County Emergency Operations Center covered precautions and preventive measures; outdoor demonstrations included examples of ways in which power line safety may be compromised, such as by animals, reckless action by construction crews, and interference from objects such as mylar balloons, fire hoses and other objects likely to conduct electricity. Workshop attendees were shown educational films aimed at instructing the public on what steps to take and what action to avoid in the event of an accident; and reminded always to call 811 before digging, in order to determine whether any utility lines may lie under ground. Those attending from the sheriff's office included Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson, Sgt. Rickey Galvan and Public Information Officer Marc Robertson.  

May 2, 2016

That
mournful sound

A Cotulla High School student is one of a pair to play 'Taps' at the close of a special ceremony in front of the TDCJ Cotulla Unit on Monday morning, May 2. The event served to memorialize all correctional officers who have died in the line of duty. Local elected officials, civic and law enforcement leaders joined Cotulla and Dolph Briscoe Dilley Unit staff for the occasion.
(For more images, see 'PHOTOS') 

April 26, 2016

What you need to know

A Kindergarten student at Cotulla's Ramirez/Burks Elementary School examines the form on which all of his vital information and fingerprints will be documented for his parents to keep in a safe place. The annual National Child Identification Program is sponsored locally by the Woman's Club of Cotulla and carried out by the La Salle County Sheriff's Office, which conducts full fingerprinting of every kindergartner in Cotulla and Encinal - more than 75 children - and offers tips on safety, speedy identification in the event of a missing child, proper documentation and advice on avoiding danger, protecting identity and steps to take in the event of a threat. Woman's Club members joined Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez and officers at the schools this week to meet the children and complete their identity kits.
(For story and related pictures, see 'PHOTOS')  

April 20, 2016

Honoring those who serve,
day and night...

Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez marked National Telecommunicators Week during April by offering recognition to all those who serve as emergency dispatchers for the county. The sheriff was joined by Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson in presenting the dispatchers with t-shirts and gifts in appreciation of their service. (For related story, see ARCHIVE)

April 18, 2016

Employee of the Month

Correctional officer and case manager Eliza Cruz has been named the Employee of the Month for April at the La Salle County Regional Detention Center in Encinal, earning recognition or her job performance. She is congratulated by Jail Administrator Cody Graham and Captain Delma Romo.

April 14, 2016

Delivering the message

Members of the Cotulla Woman's Club joined child advocates and representatives of Cotulla ISD and the La Salle County government this week in helping promote April's designation as Child Abuse Prevention & Awareness Month by placing supportive notices at public sites, including the La Salle County Courthouse and other civic buildings. The group also supports the efforts of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of South Texas, whose volunteers are spearheading the awareness effort by shedding light on the plight of the young who are abused and neglected; and who are pushing for intervention and education on the issue.

April 10, 2016

Swing,
batter,
swing

The Law Dogs team of officers from several agencies traveled to the Dilley City & Community Park beside Dilley High School on Sunday, April 10 for a friendly rivalry series of softball games against a team of players from Dilley and Cotulla high schools. The Law Dogs  were victorious by winning the first game 13-2 and the second game 4-3, which ended the series. In a special message after the games, Cotulla ISD School Resource Officer and La Salle County Deputy Jose Pedroza said he and his fellow team members believe the day's sports reflected entente between the communities, the law enforcement officers, the schools and the students, who "set aside their hometown rivalries and enjoyed themselves as teams." Event organizers are extending their thanks to Dilley ISD Superintendent Dr. Clint McLain for helping make the games possible. Players from the schools included Pierce Ramirez, Dillon Morse, Chase Sanders and EJ Martinez from Dilley High School; and Joseph Garcia, Edward Cruz, David Perez, Tres Garcia, Jorge Sanchez, Patrick Flores, Andre Garza and Bobby Niaves from Cotulla High School. The event also marked the first appearance of the Law Dogs team.

April 10, 2016

Bring in the heavy hitters

Firefighters, emergency responders, paramedics and other disaster and accident response team members from volunteer fire departments, county and city fire brigades converged on Cotulla Friday through Sunday, April 8-10 for the Rescue Tech I course offered by Benny Marberry, Kirby Wilson and Steve Fikac, instructors at the San Antonio Fire Academy. The three-day event included classroom instruction at the La Salle County Emergency Operations Center, followed by hands-on training at the Orozco Towing yard south of town, with the Jaws of Life and other high-powered emergency rescue and rapid-response equipment, enabling firefighters to practice using the newest technology to cut open vehicles safely after serious crashes to extract occupants. Approximately 60 firefighters and emergency rescue personnel from agencies across South and Southwest Texas attended the course, including a delegation from El Paso.
(For more pictures, see 'PHOTOS')
Photo courtesy of Krys Lopez, Dilley VFD 

April 7, 2016

Time to qualify

Newly hired correctional officers, emergency dispatchers and longtime staff members at the La Salle County Jail and the Sheriff's Office continued their training this week with a firearms qualifying course at the Talbert L Bar Ranch southwest of Cotulla, where the range was used for instruction and practice in handgun and shotgun usage. Trainees took aim at targets from short and long distances with the firearms they will be issued on duty. Present for the instruction and timed testing were Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson and Lieutenant Joey Garcia.
(For more pictures, see 'PHOTOS')

April 5, 2016

Training day

Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez and Lt. Joey Garcia were the instructors this week for a firearms qualification course made available to all La Salle County officers and jailers at the Talbert L Bar Ranch outside Cotulla, with license instruction for the use of handguns, shotguns and semiautomatic rifles. 
(For more images, see 'PHOTOS')

April 4, 2016

Child Abuse Prevention
& Awareness Month

Associate Judge Melissa DeGerolami signs a proclamation for April as Child Abuse Prevention & Awareness Month in the La Salle district courtroom Monday morning, April 4, joined by children's advocates Cathleen Cabrera and Audrey Louis, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez, Children's Alliance Executive Director Mikey Betancourt, La Salle County Attorney Elizabeth Martinez, County Commissioner Jack Alba and County Judge Joel Rodriguez. Also attending were members of CASA of South Texas, the Children's Alliance, local elected officials, the Cotulla Woman's Club and child advocates in commemorating the month's designation. (For related story, see ARCHIVE) 

March 28, 2016

And the scholarship goes to...

Cotulla High School 2015 Valedictorian Cody Thomas is in his first year as a Forensic Science major at St. Mary's University in San Antonio and was awarded the Clint and Donna Peoples Scholarship through the Sheriff's Association of Texas in a ceremony in the La Salle District Courtroom by Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez on Monday, March 28. The son of Robbie and Herlinda Thomas of Cotulla, Cody became eligible for the award by maintaining academic excellence at the university and being the relative of a law enforcement officer. His father is a former deputy, chief investigator and sheriff of La Salle County. Cody expressed his thanks to the sheriff for the award and said he expects to use the funds towards his tuition.

March 17, 2016

Talking Points: Street Patrol

 La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson and School Resource Officer Jose Pedroza addressed the Encinal City Council on Thursday evening, March 17 to discuss concerns over law enforcement presence and traffic patrols during critical hours of the school day when youngsters are being dropped off or picked up at school, either to attend classes at Encinal Elementary or to board buses for Cotulla middle and high schools. The Encinal Police Department conducts routine patrols and expects to maintain law enforcement supervision during the heavy-traffic hours and is asking the county sheriff's office for supplemental support. Sheriff Rodriguez confirmed that one of the county officers may be available to offer extra manpower during the city's period of peak demand. The county representatives are pictured at City Hall with Encinal City Manager Velma Davila, Patrolman Oscar Silva and Police Chief Roy Vallejo.

March 17, 2016

Calling all Patriots

Representatives of the US Veterans Administration from Laredo visited the American Legion Hall on Hwy 97 in Cotulla on Thursday morning, March 17 with their mobile unit, MVC-879, which is based in McAllen, to offer services to local members of the US armed forces, past and present. Outreach Specialist Enrique Reyes (Photo above, second from right) said the traveling unit is connected via satellite to the VA and includes a customer service and interview room in which veterans can meet with a VA representative to find assistance with medical forms, a wide range of benefits, information on short- and long-term services available through the VA, specialized services such as counseling for domestic and personal issues such as physical and mental impairment, stress management, and access to therapy. Present to meet the VA representatives and encouraging armed forces veterans from the area to visit the mobile unit was La Salle County Veterans Service Officer Rickey Galvan (second from left), who serves as sergeant with the La Salle County Sheriff's Office and who oversees the Cotulla City Patrol law enforcement division; and veterans Johnny Gomez and Paul Niaves.

March 12, 2016

Morning briefing

Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez addressed his officers outside the La Salle County Courthouse early Saturday, March 12 in advance of the annual Wild Hog Cook-Off Parade and County Fair, giving updates on crowd expectations, patrol times and locations, and covering some of the issues that officers might encounter during the festival.

March 3, 2016

Ready to meet
the applicants
Jail Administrator Cody Graham, Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson and Lieutenant Joey Garcia examine applications submitted for correctional officer positions at the Regional Detention Center at Encinal before beginning a new round of job interviews Thursday morning, March 3 in the county courthouse. The detention center currently houses inmates of the US Marshals Service under contract with La Salle County; Sheriff Rodriguez is responsible for all detainees in the county. The facility's day-to-day operations, staff and management are overseen by Administrator Graham. The majority of applicants for the new positions are Laredo residents. 

February 26, 2016

Farewell, Johnny

Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Sergeant Johnny Massey is leaving his post at the La Salle County office this month for a new position with the DPS at Linden, in Northeast Texas. He has served as sergeant in La Salle County for the past five months. A luncheon was held in his honor at the La Salle County Steakhouse in Cotulla on Friday, February 26, hosted by Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez, with Highway Patrol and CVE troopers, sheriff's deputies and support staff, and Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Vicki Rodriguez in attendance.

February 19, 2016

TRAINING SESSIONS have been underway this week at the La Salle County Emergency Operations Center, where newly hired jailers are taking their continuing education through a series of lectures in order to prepare for their state licensing examination as fully certified correctional officers. The course is being instructed by representatives of the Alamo Area Council of Governments, hosted by La Salle County. Also attending the course are new dispatchers and support staff who will serve at the La Salle County Jail. All of La Salle County's emergency response dispatchers are certified correctional officers.

February 12, 2016

Firearms training at the
Talbert L Bar Ranch

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
La Salle County Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez was joined by Chief Deputy Malcolm Watson and Lieutenant Joey Garcia at a gun range on the Talbert L Bar Ranch outside Cotulla on Friday morning, February 12 for a firearms training course offered to the county's new correctional officers serving at the Regional Detention Center in Encinal. Training by the sheriff for certification was offered in handgun and shotgun for the jailers, including short- and long-range target practice as well as firearms handling and safety measures.

February 10, 2016

"Think before you text..."

CHS students attend SADD conference

COTULLA ISD Resource Officer Jose Pedroza is joined by Crime Buster, the mascot for the Texas Campus Crime Stoppers, with Cotulla High School members of the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club, Janalene Cerna, Jasmine Gonzalez and Jerik Deleon at the annual TCCS Conference in Odessa. (For related story, see ARCHIVE)                                                    (Courtesy photo)

January 29, 2016

DOTTIE RAMIREZ is the new administrator at the La Salle County Jail in Cotulla. The jail and emergency dispatch office staff joined her in a meeting with Sheriff Miguel Rodriguez in mid-January. (For related story, see ARCHIVE)
Archive
Click to download stories from our files
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STUDENTS' FUNDRAISING CAR SHOW
August 13, 2016: SADD Club invites exhibitors; plus fajita cook-off
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ENCINAL TOURNAMENT
August 4, 2016: City hosts 3-on-3 with adults, teens
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ARRESTS, MAY 23-31, 2016
31 suspects taken into custody
SPECIAL OLYMPICS TORCH RUN
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May 25, 2016: Invitation to take part in event through Cotulla 
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ARRESTS, MAY 16-23, 2016
18 suspects taken into custody 
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TRAFFIC STOP ENDS IN DRUG ARREST
May 18, 2016: Driver had narcotics, paraphernalia in car
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NINE DEAD IN TOUR BUS CRASH
May 14, 2016: Sheriff warns of road hazards
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ARRESTS, MAY 9-16, 2016
22 suspects taken into custody 
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TWO IN CUFFS AFTER BURGLARY CALL
May 8, 2016: Suspects had construction materials in car
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ARRESTS, MAY 2-9, 2016
18 suspects taken into custody
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ARRESTS, APRIL 25 - MAY 2, 2016
18 suspects taken into custody
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PROTECTIVE VEST FOR K9
April 27, 2016: Grant for drug-detecting dog's body armor 
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ARRESTS, APRIL 19-24, 2016
14 suspects taken into custody 
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SHERIFF ENDORSES CASA FUNDRAISER
April 23, 2016: Goods, services posted on Facebook for public bidding
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TELECOMMUNICATORS' WEEK
April 20, 2016: Sheriff honors those who serve in emergency dispatch  
ARRESTS, APRIL 11-20, 2016
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23 suspects taken into custody
SHERIFF SAYS 'PARTY BUSES' WERE DANGEROUS
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April 16, 2016: Teens rode in charter vehicles with booze on Prom Night 
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ARRESTS, APRIL 4 - 11, 2016
14 suspects taken into custody 
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BOTCHED BURGLARY ENDS IN ARREST 
April 10, 2016: One in custody after attempting to steal AC
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BUS CRASH IN MILLETT 
April 9, 2016: Vehicle plows off interstate after tire blow-out  
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DOUBLE TRAFFIC STOP ENDS IN ARRESTS 
April 5, 2016: Local drivers face DWI, drug charges  
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LA SALLE COUNTY GRAND JURY
April 5, 2016: Two new indictments  
ENERGY SITE EXPLOSION
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April 4, 2016: One worker airlifted after blast  
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ARRESTS, MARCH 28 - APRIL 4, 2016
22 suspects taken into custody
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APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION, AWARENESS MONTH
April 4, 2016: Judge signs proclamation 
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EARLY-MORNING RAID
March 31, 2016: Two fugitives in custody
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ARRESTS, MARCH 21 - 28, 2016
17 suspects taken into custody
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LA SALLE COUNTY GRAND JURY, MARCH 2017
March 22, 2016: Indictments for 17 defendants  
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ARRESTS, MARCH 14 - 21, 2016
6 suspects taken into custody
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MILLION-DOLLAR METH CARGO
March 18, 2016: Traffic stop of SUV reveals fuel tank full of drugs 
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DEPUTIES INVESTIGATE LOCAL BURGLARIES
March 17, 2016: Thieves stole valuables from homes
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ARRESTS, MARCH 7 - 14, 2016
18 suspects taken into custody
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SUSPECT HID COCAINE IN BODY CAVITY
March 10, 2016: Jeep had broken windshield, driver had narcotics
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DEPUTIES ARREST CHILD ADVOCATE
March 9, 2016: Case report indicates family violence between adults
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ARRESTS, MARCH 1 - 6, 2016
10 suspects taken into custody
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ARRESTS, FEB. 22 - 29, 2016
23 suspects taken into custody
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STUDENTS ATTEND S.A.D.D. CONFERENCE
Feb. 26, 2016: Teens looking at careers in law enforcement
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ASSAULT CHARGE FOR LOCAL RESIDENT
Feb. 25, 2016: Juan Xavier Cruz arrested
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RINGERS ACQUITTED IN RAILROAD DEATH 
Feb. 25, 2016: Gardendale brothers found not guilty
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ARRESTS, FEB. 16 - 22, 2016
15 suspects taken into custody
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UNLICENSED DRIVER HAD WEED IN UNDERPANTS
Feb. 16, 2016: Officers find additional drug bundle in car
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ARRESTS, FEB. 10 - 16, 2016
18 suspects taken into custody
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RALLYING SUPPORT FOR EASTER EGG HUNTS
Feb. 9, 2016: Sheriff, Investigator address Chamber of Commerce
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ARRESTS, JAN. 31 - FEB. 9, 2016
24 suspects taken into custody
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COUNTY SUPPORTS CASA WITH $20K GRANT
Feb. 8, 2016: Volunteers speak up for abused, neglected children
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RAMIREZ TAKES CHARGE AT COUNTY JAIL
Jan. 29, 2016: New administrator
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LA SALLE COUNTY GRAND JURY, JANUARY 2016
Jan. 19, 2016: Indictments handed down on felony charges