by: SERGIO MADRID/Staff Writer
More people, more problems is the case for West Texas.
More than 30 robberies were committed in Lubbock County during the month of October alone, police say, and the numbers have jumped to around 40 percent from just a year ago.
Lieutenant Ray Mendoza, the public information officer (PIO) for the Lubbock Police Department, is a 19-year-veteran of law enforcement. On top of that, he is also a veteran of the Armed Forces.
“I originally was going into the education field, but I’ve always had that calling,” says Mendoza.
Mendoza says, “The ultimate goal is to keep crimes from happening in the first place.”
But that is much easier said than done, considering a large number of the robberies are committed by people from out of town, whether it be a nearby town such as Ralls or a close state, mainly New Mexico.
“As law enforcement, we have to work together,” Mendoza explains. “Collaboration is the key for success,” he adds about gathering information that leads to a suspect hiding out in another county.
More recently, the robberies that have been taking place seem to be enacted by a more local threat. Mendoza says not all crimes committed can be attributed to an increase in population, though population can have an affect on the rate it takes place.
Lieutenant Mendoza explains that he cannot go into much detail regarding how they will combat the recent trail of robberies, but a strategy is in the works. Mendoza did mention that with a rise in a specific crime will come a harsher punishment for that crime.
If you look on YouTube, you will find all kinds of video of police officers interacting with the public, most of which are negative or present law enforcement in a bad light.
“Film all you want, just stand back,” Mendoza says. “Because the problem isn’t with you or your camera. It’s when a perpetrator becomes agitated, or starts performing for the camera.”
But not all social media is frowned upon by police. Mendoza explains that, “Cell phone videos have also helped us in the way we combat crime. If someone has a video to provide us, all of a sudden we have a video of the suspect.”
Sometimes it works the opposite way too, with police receiving information or photos of a suspect and public tips on a suspect via Facebook or email. Another point Mendoza makes is that police officers are now held accountable for their actions out in the field. Videos can also teach in real time the do’s and don’ts of the job to rookies.
Mendoza says that social media has changed the job a lot, but overall for the better, and it will continue to help in the long run.