Constable urges neighborhood watch groups for Lyford

LYFORD — With the city of Lyford still without a staffed Police Department, the community has a plan to remain vigilant with the help of other law enforcement agencies.

According to Willacy County Constable Ben Vera, there are hopes to create neighborhood watch groups throughout the city, while continuing to encourage residents to report crimes to the Willacy County Crime Stoppers.

“We are currently patrolling along with the sheriff’s department. We continue to keep an eye on Lyford as we have in the past,” Vera said.

In a partnership with the Crime Stoppers and the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department, a meeting will be scheduled for residents to organize neighborhood watch groups.

“We are looking for a venue to meet and have officers and Crime Stoppers introduce themselves,” Vera said.

“Everyone is welcome to attend. We are ready to exchange info and create a committee. This would be new for Lyford and something that would help law enforcement,” he said.

According to Vera, this effort would be an addition to the patrolling already provided by law enforcement agents and is also a way to help the city while it staffs its police department.

Detective Sgt. Andrew Maldonado of the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department said several arrests have been made thanks to the help of the citizens.

According to Maldonado, Sebastian has been affected more with burglaries than Lyford, but he also explained there is usually a rise in burglaries during the holidays.

“We have had a great outpouring from the community. We recovered a stolen trailer because of an anonymous tip of a citizen, and we were able to apprehend a suspect because of a call,” he said.

“We started to see more interest in people wanting to get involved. We have reached out to citizens to get involved and help them with assistance,” Maldonado said.

Besides wanting to encourage the community to be vigilant and communicate any potential crimes to Crime Stoppers, Maldonado also reminded residents to take precautions.

“Small cameras are great investments for a property, and it is a better investment than a gun because a gun can’t identify anybody,” he said.

“I am not against protecting your property with a firearm, but if you are not home anyway the camera is more valuable. It is a small town. A lot of these guys are easy to identify. It is to help us do our job faster,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado said the partnership between law enforcement departments and the community has strengthened.

“I think right now we have built a great relationship with this community, and we would do anything to continue that relationship. It cannot be cops vs. the community. It needs to be together,” he said.

A new Lyford police chief will be chosen soon, said Mayor Wally Solis.

A city meeting set for Monday Jan. 6 will allow city commissioners to choose between 10 applicants, who according to Solis have gone through background checks and are qualified for the job.

In the meantime, anyone wanting to give an anonymous tip can call the Willacy County Crime Stoppers at (956)-64CRIME.