Multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies unveiled a new effort aimed at combating gang violence in Lubbock and around the South Plains.
Officials from agencies including Lubbock police, Texas Rangers and federal authorities have teamed up to create the Lubbock Texas Anti-Gang (TAG) center, the sixth center of its kind in the state, they announced during an unveiling ceremony Friday morning at the Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Office in North Lubbock.
Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said there was ultimately one goal for the center - to have a collective effort with all primary agencies in Lubbock County, as well as surrounding counties to collaborate on gang investigations.
Lubbock Police Chief Greg Stevens said the Lubbock Police Department and other law enforcement are committed to battling gang activity.
“The two things I know for sure, in order to combat that - it takes collaboration and it takes funding,” he said. “The TAG effort provides funding that we didn’t have before.”
Funding for the TAG Centers comes from grants from the criminal Justice Division of the Texas Governor’s office, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety news release.
“Gang-related violence continues to pose a threat in many of our communities, but we are committed to fighting back against these dangerous criminal organizations,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement provided by DPS. “This new TAG Center will help ensure that Lubbock has the resources necessary to help protect the community and the entire state from the scourge of gang-related violence. I thank all the law enforcement agencies at the Lubbock TAG Center for their efforts to address this growing concern and put an end to this lawlessness.”
Stevens said the six entities involved in the TAG effort include: LSO, the Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office, LPD, DPS, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations. Currently 34 law enforcement personnel, one administration and one crime analyst are located at the Lubbock TAG Center, according to the release.
The center will serve Baily, Cochran, Crosby, Dickens, Floyd, Garza, Hale, Hockley, Kent, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Motley, Terry and Yoakum Counties.
Texas Rangers Chief Randy Prince said gangs are becoming more sophisticated in the tactics they use to do business in their operations.
“These criminal enterprises are involved in virtually every type of felonious activity,” he said, “including, drug production and distribution, weapon smuggling, extortion, murder-for-hire, murder kidnapping, home invasions, theft, money fraud (and) money laundering.”
Prince said when the opportunity came from the Governor’s Office for the center in Lubbock, all law enforcement agencies involved believed they could make an impact in the community.
“One of our core values is teamwork,” he said.