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Message of hope from border county inundated by crime

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(The Center Square) – As tens of thousands of people from all over the world illegally enter Texas through a small, rural border county – committing crimes along the way and terrorizing a community of roughly 3,000 – many are finding hope from their sheriff’s office.

In Texas, most law enforcement vehicles have “In God We Trust” decals on their vehicles. However, the Kinney County Sheriff’s Office places Bible verse decals specifically chosen for the deputies driving them. They, and others, say the verses offer hope and encouragement.

The county, which shares 16 miles of border with Mexico, was the first to declare a state of emergency and the first to declare an invasion, citing the border crisis. Now, nearly 100 counties have issued disaster and/or invasion declarations. Its sheriff’s deputies and Texas Department of Public Safety officers are regularly engaged in high-speed chases of alleged human and drug smugglers, chasing those who bail out of vehicles and break into residents’ homes. They also have been engaged in shootouts with criminal aliens.

Funding through Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star border security mission enabled Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe to hire more deputies and purchase new vehicles. Its six full time deputies on the street, two school resource officers, and 10-12 part time reservists are augmented by DPS troopers and sheriff’s deputies from Galveston County.

Despite their round the clock efforts, residents have told The Center Square they are afraid for themselves and for law enforcement officers actively pursuing cartel operatives. Ever mindful of the dangers the deputies and residents face, Coe’s secretary, Cynthia Gose, came up with the idea to put Bible verse decals on KCSO vehicles. When they received grant funding for new vehicles, she asked the sheriff, “‘Can we put Bible verses on them?’ and he said, ‘sure,’” she told The Center Square.

Gose, who was born and raised in Brackettville, picks out the verses, with Coe’s approval, based on her knowledge about the deputy, she explained. The themes are generally “safety, prayer and guidance.” She says the verses and her prayers for protection are for both the deputies and the people they’re arresting.

The deputies are catching smugglers who believe they are going to be paid thousands of dollars per person, while also putting theirs and others’ lives at risk, Kinney County Chief Deputy Armando Garcia told The Center Square. Deputies have rescued people from car crashes and from being smuggled, including of a 5-year old stuffed in a trunk.

Garcia chose his own verse: Ephesians 6:11, “‘Putting on the whole armor of God to stand against evil’ that describes me and what I believe in,” he told The Center Square. “Everybody’s got their own verse that reflects how they believe or what they need.”

Garcia says he knows not everyone will like the verse decals but “I’ve had positive feedback. In God We Trust is the national motto. In God we trust is everything we should believe in … whether it’s your actions … you always want to ask God to make the right decisions for the betterment of everybody and for yourself.”

Garcia says the vehicles having Bible verses on them “is important because God is our true one leader. I am a Christian and I trust in God. In a lot of the dangerous situations I’ve been in I believe he’s the only reason I’ve come out of those situations.”

He also said people often look at the vehicles and “Google” the verse. “If there’s one person driving on the highway and having issues in their life, and they see the Bible verse and it makes them think, and changes their life, then for just that one person alone, it’s worth having it on there.”

Coe’s verse is Matt. 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Deputy decals include Mark 12:30, Luke 1:37, Romans 13:11, Psalm 91, Proverbs 21:15, and Isaiah 6:8 and 60:22. There are several more that haven’t yet been assigned.

Gose said there are times when deputies have been shaken up by a situation and she prays with them. Everyone appreciates the verses, she said, no one has told her not to pick out a Bible verse.

“Prayer is a part of my life. I believe in the Bible,” she told The Center Square. “We need more Jesus and more of the Lord than all of this chaos. There is so much anger, there is so much hatred, so much pain. We need to find comfort in God.”

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