By SARAH GRUNAU The Daily News
The city of La Marque plans to hire six police officers with
a $750,000 federal grant meant to provide funding directly to law enforcement
agencies to increase policing capacity and crime prevention, officials said.
“We asked for six officers and apparently our dire need for
staffing, crime status and programs in place that proved that we are committed
to preventing and controlling crime and the fear of crime, and undoubtedly a
superb grant submission package all proved meritorious in being awarded
precisely what we requested,” La Marque Chief of Police Randall Aragon said.
The city, which received the grant Oct. 20, was among only
181 to receive the grants out of 711 municipalities that applied through the
Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program, he said.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, is an
example of payoff from work leaders have put into fighting crime in a city that
even the mayor as recently as last year called “one of the more violent
communities in Texas,” officials said.
In response to a spate of gang-related shootings and fear of
crime among residents, leaders in 2021 launched a Safe City Initiative meant to
focus on community-oriented policing, get the crime rate down and make people
La Marque already has seen results from community-oriented
policing, with a 30 percent drop in violent crime between April 2021 and April
2022, according to the city.
The grant is the second acknowledgment of the city’s
The Texas Municipal League earlier this month named La
Marque a finalist for the 2022 Municipal Excellence Award for its community
The project funded by the new grant will consist of forming
two three-officer teams trained in both special response operations to
interdict crime and drug hot-spots, especially those producing violent crimes,
and community-oriented policing to develop a partnership between the police
department and the community, according to a statement from the city.
“Both teams will conduct directed patrol actions, targeting
crime and drug hot spots two days each week and two days each week each
specific team member will be assigned to perform as a community policing
officer working in an assigned target-specific neighborhood within our city,”
Although the city’s violent crime rate has dropped, its
property crime rate has risen, Aragon told La Marque city council Oct. 12.
Property crime encompasses burglary, larceny-theft, motor
vehicle theft and arson, while violent crime encompasses rape, robbery,
aggravated assault and murder, Aragon said.
Out of 324 larcenies in the city this year, 225 are
attributed to shoplifting, 80 percent of which were committed at Walmart, 6410
The city’s overall crime rate has decreased 1.8 percent
since last year, Aragon said.