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La Marque to hire police officers with $750,000 federal grant
La Marque, Texas
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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 feel safer.


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 efforts.


The Texas Municipal League earlier this month named La Marque a finalist for the 2022 Municipal Excellence Award for its community policing efforts.


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,” Aragon said.


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 Interstate 45.


The city’s overall crime rate has decreased 1.8 percent since last year, Aragon said.

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