39 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019 across the United States, according to the FBI.
“A 39-Year-old man should not be dead and it’s not just him, it’s every day in this country,” said Art Acevedo, Chief of the Houston Police Department.
Acevedo was referring to Sgt. Chris Brewster. Brewster was shot and killed while responding to a call this year.
Two of those deaths were in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I do believe that’s a very high number, to me one killed is a high number and it’s unacceptable on all levels,” said Jonathan B. Flores, Chief of the Alton Police Department who recalls that tragedy striking the RGV not once, but twice, this year.
First, with Texas DPS Trooper Moises Sanchez who was shot in April in Edinburg while chasing a suspect.
Sanchez spent weeks in a Houston hospital before passing away in August.
“His memory doesn’t come to an end, he lives among us, every time we put on our uniform it’s for him and his family,” said fellow DPS Trooper, Sgt. Maria Montalvo who worked with Sanchez.
Then it happened again in June, when Jose Luis ‘Speedy’ Espericueta was shot to death in Mission.
“You’ll never meet another person who had more passion for his job than Speedy and sheepdogs all across this room know we will always run towards the gun fire and not from it,” said Javier Lara, a Mission Police Officer, who was best friends with Espericueta.
Police in the RGV agree these are tragic unbearable moments that always bring the Rio Grande Valley community closer together.
“We band together during times of crisis, we have had times of crisis here locally and you saw the community banded together,” said Flores.
With 17 years of police experience, Flores says he’s never seen the amount of line of duty deaths like 2019.
“I think that the anti-law enforcement rhetoric that has swept the nation is due to advancements in social media and mainstream media,” said Flores.
Even though law enforcement run the risk, Flores says it won’t stop the men and women in uniform from protecting and serving.
“We’re not going to stop doing our jobs, it’s not going to deter us, the men and women of the thin blue line continue to hold that line and continue to stop the criminal element that disrupt that safety we try to provide for our communities,” said Flores.
Texas had seventeen police officers die in the line of duty this year, making Texas the state with the most law enforcement deaths in 2019 to date.