In this special edition, we would like to salute the bravery of our local heroes and veterans within the Live Oak Police Department and Telecommunicators. We also dedicate this editorial to the memory of fallen Police Officer, Alfredo F. Araiza Badge #208, whose watch ended tragically on January 17, 1980. Officer Araiza is the only Live Oak officer to die in the line of duty.
Most officers begin their day with a brief glimpse of their children and spouses as they kiss them goodbye or goodnight, depending on what shift he or she is assigned. As they leave the safety of their homes dressed in a police uniform their whole demeanor changes. They begin to prepare mentally for the uncertainty of the day ahead as they make the drive to the Police Department. No matter what uncertainties or stressful events they will endure, these officers stand "ready for duty" to protect Live Oak.
Officers communicate with public safety telecommunicators via police radios, CAD Instant Messenger, email and mobile phone transmissions. Our Communications Center has 10 full time public safety tele-communicators including an on-site Dispatch Supervisor and a Communications Manager overseeing all operations and related equipment. Our dispatch services extend to Live Oak, Selma and Judson ISD Police Departments, and emergency services for Selma and Live Oak Fire Departments as well as Schertz EMS. Most of their time on duty is spent handling call volumes at levels that would be utterly overwhelming to most. They are outstanding multi-taskers dealing with many different types of situations during a typical shift from receiving a 9-1-1 call about a home invasion to relaying vital information during a late night police pursuit. The valuable information sent out to the residents during a crisis or an emergency outage through our CTY system is also generated by the same telecommunicators sometimes in the middle of a police or fire emergency. It's very clear how important police officers are in helping to keep people safe, but there are unsung heroes in law enforcement working behind the scenes who are just as important. The Hero's Guardians! Our 9-1-1 Telecommunicators are Live Oak's silent heroes and we honor them every April during "National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week:' They are the ones we depend on and want to hear every time we dial those three numbers, "9-1-1, where is your emergency?" We celebrate them for their dedication and their grace under pressure when people are most in need.
The Live Oak Police Department was formed in August of 1961 with only a Marshal and one deputy. Jerry Smith served as the first to wear the Live Oak badge as "Town Marshal" and then as Chief of Police. Fast forward fifty-six years, the city now has a state of the art facility located at 8022 Shin 0ak Drive. The new facility is home to the Municipal Court and Police Administration with 32 full time commissioned police officers and 2 Reserve police officers. The police officers now have schedules based off of an 8 hour shift with a total of three shift rotations. Each officer will spend most of their shift working nonemergency calls including patrolling throughout the community, traffic patrol, writing reports or assisting other agencies.
Today just 6% of the population has served in the military, but 19% of police officers are veterans, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. Live Oak is proud to have eleven military veterans currently working for the department which include those that are retired and still serving in the National Guard units. Most of our police officers say the transition from serving in the military to serving the public as a civilian law enforcement was a natural fit for them and their families. The training during their military and police academy provided traits such as discipline, integrity, sense of service, commitment, and the experience of dealing with difficult situations. Live Oak officers demonstrate daily that they have the heart and compassion but more importantly, all invest in caring about our community because most of them live and raise their families in Live Oak or in a neighboring town.
On average, Live Oak police officers receive 40 hours of continued education annually and typically average over 100 hours every two years in addition to the mandated training. Training topics include “Use of Deadly Force”, weapons training with all types of firearms, baton, OC spray and Taser, First Aid and Emergency Driving. Physical training is a crucial part of any modern police officer’s day due to the physical demands required to perform reality based self-defense. These self-defense systems and tactics are designed to be simple but capable of being used against larger and stronger assailants. All of which provides an arsenal of techniques to prevent injury while protecting themselves or fellow officers from harm.
Community policing is, in essence, a collaboration between the police and the community that come together to solve community issues. To achieve this combined effort, throughout the year, our police officers participate in local school programs and make regular visits to classrooms at both elementary schools located in the city. As officers become active in building positive relationships with our youth by exercising a positive image, we have found it begins the process of breaking down the negative barriers of mistrust that is so often portrayed on the evening news. Some of Live Oak’s successful community programs held yearly include the Blue Santa Program, greeting the public at “Coffee with Cops, teaching the Citizens Police Academy, Jr. Cadet Academy and hosting group tours through the station.
In May 2017, the department retired its 5th police K9 “Bolo.” After giving four years of service, Bolo developed arthritis in his back which led to the decision for an early retirement and allow him to take life a little easier.
Bolo was instrumental in the war on drugs in Live Oak and the surrounding region by assisting officers as a narcotic detection dog. During his tenure, he was responsible for eradicating $122,240.00 of marijuana, $888,678.40 of cocaine, $1,720,022.40 of methamphetamines, $13,607.40 of heroin and $1,011.00 of MDMA and $751,2010.00 of seized cash. These busts combined have a street value of $2.7 million.
The search for a replacement began prior to Bolo making one last patrol with handler, Officer David Wall. The long tedious selection process of finding the perfect new canine would begin. Once the prospect K9 was chosen, specialized training began for both the officer and the new dog. The K9 was given the suitable name of “Warrant.” Much like any specialty trained police dog, learning to respond to tone handler is crucial for the duo to be a successful crime fighting team. Since then, the duo have clearly made a natural bond and have learned to look to each other for protection. Warrant is not only a police service dog to our department and our community, but he is already a valuable part of the Wall family when off duty.
Most police officers will say it’s the most rewarding job they’ve ever had. The dedication, integrity, courage and experience within our department speak volumes. Police personnel have integrity, courage, and experience within our department speak volumes. Police personnel have an accumulative 428 years of service to the City between them and our citizens are very fortunate to have that amount of law enforcement experience in one small department. The experience and dedication paid off on March 16, 2015 when LOPD was honored with the “Recognized Law Enforcement Agency” title from the Texas Police Chiefs Association Law Enforcement Recognition Program. At that time, Live Oak Police Department became the 106th agency in the state to be recognized with this honor. In addition to the recognition that we pay our police officers and tele-communicators, the administrative civilian staff also play a significant role in the everyday activities of the police department and deserve just as much recognition. Most of the civilian personnel or non-sworn positions will occupy clerical positions or property technician but together with the uniformed officers, contribute to the well-oiled machine and daily business of a police department. Live Oak’s civilian administrative staff are responsible for reporting state regulated crime reports, crime statistic reports, maintaining and retention of agency records and preserving and analyzing evidence required for pending criminal trials. Even with the increase in paperless technologies, agencies still need assistance with data entry to record information generated from the action of a uniformed officer.
We may call them “heroes: at times, and they may call themselves “brothers and sisters in blue” but let’s not forget that they are also known as someone’s dad, mom, husband, wife, brother or sister. When they remove the uniform at the end of their day, they slowly transform back to the roles of parents, neighbors, military veterans, little league coaches and proud American citizens. On their days off, their thoughts are about how much they love their families and how thankful they are for the opportunity to serve their nation and community but mostly that they made it home safely for one more day. We thank and salute the men and women in blue and pray for their safety on each watch.
And maybe remind the few if ill of us they speak
That we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak
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