La Joya ISD police track gang membership in schools

The end goal is to keep gang populations low by moving disruptive gang members to other campuses

"I'm starting my 14th year as police chief and every year is different," La Joya ISD Police Chief Raul Gonzalez said.

Chief Gonzalez has watched as the types of crimes students commit have evolved over the years.

He is in charge of keeping an eye on those crimes for a school district that spans six cities in western Hidalgo County.

"We see some drug dealing, we see some thefts, we see some kids getting involved with some major organizations," Chief Gonzalez said.

These are things many border school districts encounter, but in an area where students are vulnerable to major drug and human smuggling operations, Chief Gonzalez says keeping track of gang members at schools is a top priority.

He showed Action 4 TMs Nadia Galindo the lists of known gang members at each of the districts middle and high school campuses.

Each year this list is updated by police officers who interact with students on a daily basis.

"We've invested a lot in providing security for our schools," Chief Gonzalez explained. "We've grown from one police officer to 48."

In addition to the 48 police officers, the school district also employs 37 security officers making a total of 85 employees in uniform.

The end goal is to keep gang populations low by moving disruptive gang members to other campuses.

By doing this they hope to prevent fights like the one back in May at Palmview High School that resulted in one student being stabbed.

The parent of the 15-year-old suspect had no idea her son had joined a gang.

"If your kids are involved in things like human smuggling, drug smuggling, gangs you are going to end up in two places, you are going to end up in prison or dead," Chief Gonzalez says.

Police have identified 10 major gangs at the districts three high schools.

Chief Gonzalez said keeping track of these gangs and deterring gang member growth is the best way to keep campuses safe.