DPS striving to keep community safe

One of the goals of the local branch of the Texas Department of Public Safety is to ensure the safety of the community it serves.Sgt. Joe Medrano of the DPS, along with Troopers Casey Dawson and Oscar Esqueda, attended the Tuesday meeting of the Rotary Club to share more about the work that is done by the department.Medrano said he has been a Hutchinson County resident for 11 years. Initially, he said he didn’t think he would be here very long, but truly enjoys living here and being a part of the community, as well as those with whom he works.“I think the main thing that kept me here is the men that I’ve worked with,” he said. “I mean this honestly, we have some of the best highway patrol crew in the State of Texas that live and work right here in the Texas Panhandle.”Medrano said Dawson is now a full-fledged trooper who can now go out and work on his own. “He has a very high bar to attain to follow the examples that the other troopers have set forward,” he said.In terms of the area that is covered by this branch of the DPS, Medrano said he and his troopers are responsible for Hansford, Hutchinson, and Carson County. He has 10 troopers that he handles as one unit, and they work within the three counties.One of the major programs the highway patrol is a part of is trying to stop the flow of people using highways to transport illegal contraband from the East Coast to the West Coast.“We found out that Interstate 40 is the number one mostly-used highway in the nation, and that runs right through my area of responsibility,” Medrano said.Several years ago, he said he had an old highway patrol captain named Rusty Davis, who he said was a great mentor and encouraged him to do what he could to solve this particular problem. Medrano said he, along with Trooper Esqueda and Trooper Darrin Bridges, took it on himself to get trained in this particular area. Since that time, this area has led the U.S.A. In highway interdiction cases.At a U.S. Department of Homeland Security conference that took place in Las Vegas, Nev., Medrano said there was a map displayed showing all the regions where such cases were handled, and there was a large red dot around the area that is currently handled by his branch of troopers.Along with this particular work, the troopers still must respond to reported crashes, and issue citations to those who are speeding when it is necessary. However, Medrano said when he hires troopers, he wants people who are intelligent, will investigate cases, and will go beyond just a mere traffic stop.“I would rather put a felon in jail than have to give my friend a ticket for eight over,” he said. “I’ve done my job better if I take a little more time to talk to that person.”Medrano said the troopers have been responsible for putting several felons behind bars. He said he gets calls from FBI analysts out of California, complimenting them for the hard work they are putting in to such cases.The troopers have tied cases from California, Arizona, New York, and New Jersey, and have confiscated numerous amounts of dope. He said some major players in such cases have been arrested.In terms of Hutchinson County, Medrano said he knows there is a problem, and he and his troopers plan to do something about it. He said it is his mission that the drug problem in Hutchinson County be resolved, because the citizens deserve it.