2 years after shooting police communications improved

Bullets flew across a La Joya neighborhood two years ago this week when a known Texas Syndicate gang member barricaded himself inside a home after shooting and injuring several officers.

In the confusion of the shooting, which ended with the death of Joaquin Cibrian, almost every law enforcement agency in the county responded to the scene near the intersection of Leo Avenue and 9th street.

Confounding the chaos caused by what police called an ambush on officers, the separate agencies were unable to communicate with each other because some smaller agencies worked on different frequencies — making it impossible to coordinate an effort during the shooting.

A month after the shooting in August of 2014, the heads of law enforcement agencies across the Valley convened to discuss the lack of coordination between local, state and federal agencies.

Palmview Police Chief Chris Barrera, one of the many law enforcement officials at the scene of the La Joya incident, said in the years following the shooting the communication issue was resolved when they implemented a regional communications system.

“The majority of the departments could not communicate with each other so you had everybody doing different things. Now with this regional communications, this new system, we’re able to set up an incident command, everybody’s able to turn to a tactical channel, or a channel that is designated for the time its needed and now we’re able to communicate with basically everybody, state, local, federal agencies that are at the scene,” Barrera said.

San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez, who also heads a regional tactical team for the Valley, said the implementation of a new communications system along with the regional tactical team helped collaboration and understanding between agencies.

Gonzalez said the awareness that comes from understanding how each department trains and how they operate is beneficial for future high-risk situations.

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