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Tax Office closes for active-shooter training

September 21, 2018

The Cameron County Tax-Assessor Office in the downtown Brownsville Levee Building closed its doors Thursday afternoon to educate its employees on what to do, and what not to do, in the event of an aggravated robbery or active shooter.

The training is a first for the Tax-Assessor’s Office.

“Well, we’ve been working on this project for about two months with the Brownsville PD (police department.) We finally had our surveillance cameras installed, our panic buttons installed, and we decided to take it a step further and have a training for the employees as to what to do, what not to do in an active shooter situation. We’ve never had that type of training,” Tax Assessor-Collector Tony Yzaguirre said from the Levee Building lobby.

When the doors locked at 2 p.m., employees placed brown paper over the windows before nearly 50 people gathered for a presentation by Brownsville Police Department Community Affairs Officer Sgt. David De Leon.

De Leon, in addition to his work with the Brownsville Police Department, is an adjunct professor with the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT, at Texas State University.

De Leon is one of thousands of law enforcement and fire officials all across the country trained in ALERRT operations and tactics on how to respond to active shooter situations who deliver this training across the country.

And De Leon had a message.

“It’s not a matter of if it happens, it’s a matter of when it happens,” De Leon said.

But that’s not because active shooters are a new occurrence, he said, mentioning the 1966 University of Texas-Austin tower shooting. That’s why communities need to prepare.

“I want you guys to have a plan,” De Leon said.

Before giving the presentation, De Leon explained that his presentations are in high demand as more and more active-shooter events appear in news media reports and on social media feeds.

This is the fifth presentation this month.

Yzaguirre is part of that demand.

“This is something that I think is needed. I think every office needs to do this,” Yzaguirre said. “Especially this office, with the amount of money that we collect, and being downtown. I think it’s a need.”

However, while Yzaguirre admits his main reason for asking for the training is in the event of an aggravated robbery, he knows anything can happen.

“That’s the number one, because of the nature of our business,” Yzaguirre said. “Hopefully, we’ll never have an active shooter but we hear stories all over the nation that active shooters are people who have issues or problems.”

So far, the Tax Assessor’s Office has never been robbed, though, Yzaguirre said.

“I think this is great not only for the employees but for the customers,” Yzaguirre said. “We get hundreds of customers a day in here and I think it’s our responsibility to not only protect them, but the employees also.”

Over the next few weeks, Yzaguirre said all of the tax offices in Cameron County will receive the training.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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