It’s been about 2 weeks now since the Marfa Police Department began operations after a nearly 8 year hiatus. During that time the Presidio County Sheriff’s office serviced the town. But now police chief Esteban Marquez and a team of officers are patrolling the town, officially marking the return of a municipal police service.
Chief Marquez says he wants to emulate the style of policing he experienced as a kid growing up in Marfa, where he says officers weren’t just enforcing the law but were also involved with the community.
“Growing up as a kid, being passed curfew, our officers they knew us. That’s the thing about being in a tight knit community,” says Marquez. “They knew us. So they would pick us up, take us home, explain ‘Steve’s out in the middle of the night and he can’t be out.’ It was stuff like that. So then when we saw that officer later, they would ask us ‘did you get in trouble.’ And we’d say ‘yes sir, but thanks for taking us home.”
That type of community policing has always been around, says Marquez.
“Everybody knew everybody. So they knew, I know his parents. We’re just going to take him home, or they would handle the situations in different ways. They were basically, very community friendly.”
Community policing is Marquez’s goal. But that feeling has been a bit muted with the department’s start. Community members have commented on the amount of police activity already seen in the area.
But Marquez says that’s not necessarily indicative of the activity or presence Marfans can expect on a daily basis.
“I guess what they’re not used to is the presence of police officers pulling over people. But basically our stops are all for speeding. A lot of it is right here at the four-way stop where people roll the. Stop sign, or they completely avoid the stop sign. Those are things that we’re, a majority of our stops are coming from,” says Marquez.
“Right now we’re not even writing tickets we’re giving warnings for these situations. So we’re just trying to keep the streets safe for everybody.
“And part of that is implementing, or re-educating people that we have to make complete stops at stop signs, we have to keep an eye on the yield signs, we have to let pedestrians cross the cross walk. I feel that once the people star seeing that we are watching for this, you know we won’t be seeing that many stops in the middle of time.”
Going forward, Marquez says that transparency and communication will allow the force to strike a balance between meeting the needs of the community while making sure they don’t feel over-surveilled.