Boots on the Ground: A Day in the Life of a Border Sheriff
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Lupe Treviño, sheriff of Hidalgo County, is among the coalition members who say that the inflammatory rhetoric has brought the border region nothing but a lot of headlines and bad publicity.
“As an American, of course I am concerned about terrorism,” Treviño says, “but do you think my deputies have time to post themselves on the river to look for Osama bin Laden?” His department receives a call for assistance every four minutes on average, he adds.
“I’m not going to drop my homicides and my robbery investigations so that I can help Border Patrol keep terrorists out of the country.”
It is getting late in the desert. “Let’s go,” West says, exiting the cabin. He hops into his ATV and motions for us to join him. “I want to show you Mexico,” he says, hitting the gas. We crest a small butte, and the sun is hanging low. Suddenly the ATV makes a whump and then a thumping noise. Flat tire. “Dang,” the sheriff says, pulling out a can of Fix-A-Flat. He shoots the white foam into the deflated tire. No luck. West kicks the dust with his Wallaby boot and radios for help.
Regrouped back at the trailer, the deputies begin loading the ATVs. They haven’t found the body. It’s nearly dark, but the men linger, elbows propped on truck beds, talking about sports and the weather. The stony-faced Ranger and the ICE agent dip into cans of chewing tobacco and spit into the dust.
“You boys have to go home sometime, or your wives will divorce you,” West says, guffawing. But he is in no hurry, either. His wife phoned earlier to remind him about a school function he’d promised to attend that evening.
“Do you have any other questions?” he asks hopefully. I can’t think of any.
Two weeks later, I get an e-mail from West. The subject is “Body in Mountain.” He wrote:
“I just wanted to let you know we found the body. He was about two miles north east of the little house. We had to walk about a mile and a half to get him, but we made it for a bunch of old guys. The family can feel better knowing this information I guess. Take care and God Bless. Tu amigo, Sheriff West.”
Excerpted from The Texas Observer (Oct. 30, 2009), a bastion of high-quality investigative reporting and vivid political and social commentary, published by the nonprofit Texas Democracy Foundation. www.texasobserver.org
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