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Ennis Daily News

EPD stands vigilant over our city

Watching our police officers stand vigilant on Interstate 45 with assault rifles, shotguns and an acute sense of the need to keep watch over a bevy of state prisoners the other week reminded me of another guns-out incident in a former newspaper job of mine.
This time in Ennis, authorities were handling what amounted to a low-impact collision between a prisoner transport van and an 18-wheeler. Once the scanner chatter started to ramp up two Fridays back, it become quickly apparent that something was amiss in Ennis.

At the scene, it was easy to see there was need for caution. While the prisoners on hand were parole violators and nonviolent offenders, jail has a unique way of making desperate men do desperate things.

The presence of heavy weaponry and nearly the entire Ennis police force reinforced that concept fairly strongly for any onlooker. Eight prisoners riding in the van had found a way to get out of the heavy bonds of police custody for even a short moment by claiming injury. That gave them an opportunity to head on over to Ennis Regional Medical Center for treatment and a nice once-over.

There’s something comical about seeing otherwise able-bodied men loaded on backboards and carried away from the scene of a minor accident. It was as if onlooking drivers could smell the bunk rising from the road.

Importantly, our police weren’t joking around. While there was reportedly minor friction with the guards in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice vans and our officers, everything was ironed out smoothly and professionally. I’m sure having Ennis police roll in with the arms necessary to quell a terrorist attack made it a little tense, but again, the caution is appreciated from this side of the desk — no complications or escapes means effective policing.

Mike Hopson, who is a source that has developed quite a personable air in the months we’ve worked together, was, as always, somewhat cool on the event. To him, it’s another day in the life of an officer.

Two days prior, he’d been part of a raid on a suspected drug house in Ennis where police allegedly discovered a rock of crack cocaine the size of a ping pong ball within the reach of toddlers, so it’s easy to understand the need to maintain an even keel.

He did say that he was impressed by the response Ennis’ law enforcement and public safety first responders showed in mobilizing quickly to ensure all went well. With this crash occurring on the busiest stretch of road in the east side of Ellis County, our responsibility was immense, and the authorities on hand performed it with dispatch.

It made me think back on a similarly rainy Friday afternoon in Grambling, La., when scanner chatter led me to the campus of Grambling State University for a report of a gunshot near one of the residence halls.

Granted, locking down a college campus to keep a suspect in arms reach is slightly more difficult than controlling a road headed in one direction like Interstate 45, but the feeling of disarray that greeted me in Grambling and the feeling of control that greeted me here in Ennis were stark contrasts.

One thing is certain to me after a year in this community. With the proximity to a large metropolitan area and the relatively short drive to the Mexican border, Ennis is going to see its share of criminal activity and public safety concerns.

Seeing Ennis’ police respond in force to even the slight possibility of a prisoner-escape scenario and public safety issue at the beginning of this month makes it easy to appreciate the seriousness with which they address their job and the role they play in our collective safety.

Nick Todaro feels a little safer knowing that even a van of convicts looking for a free ride to the hospital are given their due here (even if they’re all crying wolf) and that the law enforcement community approaches its job with grave dedication. He can be reached at nick@ennisdailynews.com.

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Posted by on Jul 14 2010. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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