It was quite a show the Harris County Sheriff’s Office put on at the Houston Ship Channel.
The agency’s new helicopter, patrol boats and High Risk Operations Unit vehicle were all on hand to show off the Sheriff’s Office’s capabilities.
And that was important to Sheriff Adrian Garcia. He points out that Osama Bin Laden had plotted to attack oil tankers in the United States, which makes the Houston Ship Channel a potential target.
Garcia says part of what makes Harris County safer today is his agency’s growing resources.
“When there’s an evildoer in our community that we have to take into custody who may have more sophisticated weaponry than we care to contend with or who thinks that they can hide behind a wall, we need specially trained, committed professionals – trained in dynamic techniques, with the right weaponry, the right resources.”
Garcia is talking about the High Risk Operations unit the Sheriff’s Office launched last year – basically a SWAT team. In addition, the agency is growing its K-9 unit and has been adding more deputies on patrol. It acquired its only helicopter less than two months ago.
Another critical security component is the cooperation between different law enforcement agencies.
Stephen Morris is the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston Division. He says the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force works with dozens of law enforcement agencies in and around Houston.
“Those are the folks that are the glue that make all this work. And those are the unsung heroes, if you will, that make this happen every single day. These are the folks that, much like our adversaries who evolve in change and try to come up with new ways to attack us, our folks, the folks we work with every day, they’re evolving as well.”
Sheriff Garcia says the cooperation between different law enforcement agencies is much better today than it was before 9/11.
“Were the entities actively sharing information? Maybe not necessarily. Some would be more on the receiving end of information than on the giving end of information. And so I think today, that’s no longer the case. We actively share as much information as we possibly can with each other, given our respective mission.”
Garcia says it’s also important that citizens remain watchful and report anything suspicious that occurs in their communities.
He encourages smartphone users to download the Sheriff’s Office’s iWatch Harris County app, through which they can report criminal activity.