Located in the Texas panhandle, Levelland is made up of around 14,000 residents that welcome upwards of 9,000 students to attend its community college each year. While standard motor vehicle accidents, domestic disturbances and criminal mischief calls take up the majority of the police department's time, a larger threat is emerging in the tight-knit community.
"When I started with Levelland, we had a lot of homegrown-type gang memberships, and now its gone further out into more of a global-type," said Chief Albert Garcia of the Levelland Police Department. "A lot of these gangs might be affiliate gangs of the larger gangs, but no matter how you cut it, the larger gangs are who are operating the smaller affiliates in our city."
But, not for long.
Local law enforcement has worked tirelessly to prevent thist threat from evolving into a major problem. Specifically, by targeting the gangs' key business interest — drugs.
"These gangs have a lot of the resources needed to move and relocate large amounts of narcotics from one point of the United States to another," Garcia said.
To combat the rise in gangs and prevent the transport of drugs, Levelland PD has teamed up with other state and federal agencies.
By sharing information between agencies and across jurisdictions, the involved police departments have been able to follow suspects from one community to another and eventually make an arrest.
Working with the DEA and other drug and gang taskforces, the Levelland PD has been able to stop the transport of massive amounts of narcotics, Garcia said, including cases with methamphetamine packages ranging from 22 to 40 pounds.
When a gunman was on the loose in the Kansas City metro area, law enforcement officials worked quickly to protect the community.
In the late summer of 2017, residents of an apartment complex called 9-1-1 to report gunshots being fired. Immediately, dispatchers sent first responders from the Independence Police Dept. and Independence Fire Dept. to assist those in need.
The dispatcher handling the call for service worked quickly to include all details in the computer aided dispatch (CAD) narrative, which allowed first responders to have instant, real-time updates on their mobile device terminals (MDTs).
"In a situation like this, information is vital," Independence FD's Battalion Chief Cindy Culp said. "Being able to share information back and forth with the police department from dispatch is helpful so that we can all work together on incidences that are criminal, medical or otherwise require a response from fire and police."
In this case, shots were fired at around 11 a.m. in the apartment complex. Witnesses who called 9-1-1 reported an individual saying she had been shot and that an individual was seen fleeing from the scene. Passersby attempted to run after the suspect, who then fired shots again and fled from the scene.
"Anytime you have a suspected shooter flee from a scene, it creates a potentially dangerous situation for everyone in the community," Culp said.
To protect the community, schools in the area were locked down and citizens were urged to stay indoors.
The suspect was captured quickly thereafter and arrested by authorities.
"This shooting highlighted one of the many incidences where the police and fire departments work together," Independence PD records administrator Joanna Whitt said. "We're lucky we had the ability to share information back and forth, so that all first responders were equipped with information that they needed as it pertained to their roles in the field."
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