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4th of July Response one of busiest of the year for El Paso County Sheriff’s Office

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is reporting that their Fourth of July response this year was one of the biggest of the year, with a significant increase in staffing and responses.

"The Fourth of July is generally one of the busiest days of the year," said Lt. Juan Ibarra, commander of the East Montana patrol station with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. "People go out and celebrate, right? People want to go out to Red Sands and you know, spend time with the family. So it's fairly busy. This year we were expecting maybe about 15,000 out there [in the county]."

Lt. Ibarra said July 4th and New Year's are the busiest for the Sheriff's Office as residents from the surrounding municipalities come into the unincorporated areas of the county that the office covers to shoot fireworks with less restrictions. The city of El Paso has prohibitions on fireworks use. That leads the Sheriff's Office to move personnel around and staff up ahead of the holiday.

"We have different officers assigned to other duties," Lt. Ibarra said. "I mean, obviously, we have school resource officers that we use, right? So we can double up the manpower, triple up the manpower."

The amount of enforcement actions tends to rise on the holiday as well. According to a spokesperson, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office had four DWI arrests on July 4th, with only one such arrest in the previous four days.

"Unfortunately, alcohol does play a huge factor in some of the things we see out there. I think that's the major issue that we have out there," Lt. Ibarra said. "It comes down to, you know, celebrating responsibly with the families, right?"

The Sheriff's Office also reports a high volume of response and reports from deputies on the holiday. According to a spokesperson, from July 4th to July 5th at 6 AM, there were 30 incidents resulting in deputies writing official reports across three stations including "evading arrest with a vehicle, hit and runs, deadly conducts (discharge firearms), DWI, Possessions of controlled substances, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct (display/discharge firearms), trespassing, and theft to include others."

While elevated, that level of response is pretty standard for the major fireworks holidays for the Sheriff's Office.

"I would say at least, on an average with the added personnel and SROs or school resource officers and so forth, we manage probably about 300% more manpower," Lt. Ibarra said. "In recent years that we've had and the different operations, we don't really see much of a difference year to year."

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Andrew J. Polk


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