State troopers in the spotlight at Behind the Badges on Monday

Law enforcement officers who serve Liberty County greeted residents of the community at the third meeting in a series titled "Behind the Badges" hosted by Daisetta Police Department and Chief Mike Parrish. Pictured left to right are Liberty County Commissioner and Retired Texas DPS Sergeant Greg Arthur, Texas DPS License & Weight Sergeant Troy Dyson, Daisetta Police Officer Bonnie McLaughlin, Daisetta Mayor Eric Thaxton, Daisetta Police Chief Mike Parrish, Texas DPS Sergeant Rob Willoughby, Texas DPS Narcotics Interdiction Sergeant Boyd Lamb and his K-9 "Ikie."

The third in a series of “Behind the Badges” gatherings, hosted by Daisetta Police Department and Chief Mike Parrish, featured members of the Texas Department of Public Safety Monday night at the Daisetta fire station with DPS sergeants Rob Willoughby, Troy Dyson and Boyd Lamb as guest speakers.​​

The Texas Department of Public Safety is the largest state-level law enforcement agency in the State of Texas and it was first formed in 1929 as the Highway Motor Patrol.  The founding of the Highway Motor Patrol marked the first statewide law enforcement agency since the founding of the Texas Rangers in 1823.  The Highway Motor Patrol was the first uniformed statewide law enforcement agency with officers to receive regularly mandated training.

When the Highway Motor Patrol was born, it consisted of only 60 members statewide who patrolled Texas highways on motorcycles in pairs.  It was not uncommon, during these early days, for Troopers to drive offenders to jail in their own cars, then return later for the motorcycle that had been left on the side of the road.  Since the name of the agency was changed to Texas Department of Public Safety in 1935, as it is known to this day, the agency has grown to approximately 2,800 sworn Troopers stationed all across Texas.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and by extension the Highway Patrol, is Texas’ de facto state police. ​

“There are many times when municipal and county agencies have to call on the Texas DPS for assistance and I’m really glad to know that small agencies with few resources, like the Daisetta Police Department for example, can reach out to the DPS for help,” said Chief Parrish. “The DPS has always been there to lend a helping hand in our communities so I’m really pleased that these three Sergeants accepted our invitation to highlight this segment of our Behind the Badges series.”

Residents of the communities of Hull, Daisetta, and Raywood sat in and were very attentive while Sergeant Rob Willoughby described his duties as a Texas state trooper who is currently assigned to Liberty County.

As sergeant, ​Willoughby stated that his primary duties are to apprehend traffic law violators, investigate most rural traffic accidents, ​recover stolen vehicles and stolen property, apprehend wanted persons, and assist other troopers during emergencies.​​

“I’m the guy you’re most likely to see investigating fatality traffic accidents throughout Liberty County whereas you’d see Sergeant Dyson enforcing commercial motor vehicle law or Sergeant Lamb working drug interdiction,” Willoughby said. “I just want you to know that the DPS is here to be a part of your community and to help our citizens whenever we have an opportunity to do so.”

Willoughby elaborated on the different divisions of the Texas Department of Public Safety and touched on Commercial Vehicle Enforcement as being one of those divisions.​​​

Sergeant Troy Dyson briefly spoke about his role as a sergeant assigned to commercial motor vehicle enforcement.

According to the Official Texas DPS website, the objective of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Service is to reduce commercial motor vehicle accidents through the enforcement of Motor Carrier Safety Regulations; to protect the state highways from unnecessary damage by securing compliance with state laws regulating weight of commercial vehicles; to ensure equitable payment of commercial vehicle registration fees by enforcement of registration laws; to protect the rights, privileges, and safety of the general public in the use of the public highway system by securing compliance with traffic laws and regulations applicable to the operation of all vehicles.

“Our goal is to ensure that the commercial motor vehicles operating on Texas highways do so in a safe manner.  We’re not out there to try to cause problems or to slow commerce, because we all want our milk and eggs on time, but just to do what we can to make sure that things are done properly,” said Dyson.

He added that some people may find his particular field of law enforcement boring or not very interesting, “But I really like it. I think it can be fascinating.”

Dyson then joked about a traffic stop involving an Elvis impersonator in full costume.

​​Another division of the Texas Department of Public Safety specializes in highway interdiction and apprehends offenders responsible for possession or trafficking street level narcotics.   Some of the troopers who are assigned to this division have narcotics detection dogs as partners.

Texas DPS Sergeant Boyd Lamb was on hand with his partner “Ilke” (pronounced “ill-kee).  Sergeant Lamb gave some insight into some of the things that trainers look for in a canine before the dogs actually undergo training.

“Not just any dog can be trained as a narcotics detection dog,” said Lamb, “and very few actually make the cut.”

Sergeant Lamb spoke about his career with the Texas Department of Public Safety and mentioned a time when he was able to seize $1.5 million during an interdiction stop. This money was believed to be directed to one of the drug cartels positioned in Mexico.

“I think it’s a good thing that our citizens have the opportunity to meet a few of our State Troopers in a more informal and relaxed setting,” Chief Parrish conveyed.  “It’s important for the public to realize that, regardless of what agency our Behind the Badges guest speakers represent, we are all Texas Peace Officers working toward the same goal.  I’d like to express our gratitude to the Texas Department of Public Safety for accepting our invitation to speak and for such a great presentation.”​​

Boyett Taylor, of the local neighborhood watch/patrol program entitled D&H Takeback, was on hand to express his gratitude to local law enforcement for the sacrifices they make daily to protect citizens. Taylor also extended an invitation open to all those who wanted to participate in the neighborhood watch program.

“Next week, Oct. 15, (Monday), we’ll be hosting Behind the Badges with the Liberty County Precinct #2 Constable’s Office as our guest speakers.  The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Hull-Daisetta Volunteer Fire Department.  We’d love to see the public attend and meet our local Constable, his staff, and learn about the duties and responsibilities of the Constable’s Office,” Parrish said.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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