PHARR, RGV – The residents of Hidalgo County could be forgiven for thinking they live in a violent area, if their main source of information was the 6 p.m. news broadcast on local television.
This is the view of Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. ‘Eddie’ Guerra. At a breakfast meet and greet event at the Mi Casita Adult Day Care center in Pharr on Saturday, Guerra told another story: that the crime rate continues to go down.
“What people want from a sheriff is to live in a community they feel safe in. In the six years I have been the sheriff we have been able to reduce the crime rate by over 28 percent,” Guerra told the Rio Grande Guardian.
“When it comes to violent crime, this county used to average about 17 homicides a year. Two years ago, in 2018, we had four. Last year, we had five.”
The same downward trend can be seen with home invasions, Guerra said.
“We were at 52 per year when I took office. Last year we had ten. Also, our property crime continues to go down. All our indexed crimes are going down and that is during a time when our population continues to rise.”
Guerra pointed out that most of these violent crimes were not stranger-on-stranger incidents. “The perpetrators were involved in criminal activity or a domestic violence situation,” he said.
The sheriff’s office, which currently has 830 members of staff, patrols unincorporated areas outside of a city’s limits. Guerra says he and his department are therefore responsible for the safety of around half a million people. “We are doing a good job,” he said.
Asked if the public is aware that the crime rate is going down, Guerra said:
“The public does not really sense this because we do not put those numbers out. Unfortunately, the good news does not make the 6 o’clock news. It is always the bad news. Every time there is something bad it is blasted on the news.”
What makes the crime rate numbers even more impressive, Guerra argues, is Hidalgo County’s geographical location.
“We live in a county adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border and we are the seventh largest county in Texas. I would like to thank all my federal, state and local partners in law enforcement. They help me do my job every day.”
In his speech at the breakfast event, Guerra said he was pleased to help bring the Texas Anti-Gang Center to McAllen. This center houses 15 different law enforcement agencies. He said he was also pleased to help bring the Texas Trans National Intelligence Center to the Rio Grande Valley.