McALLEN -- As part of the Attorney General’s (AG) Law Enforcement Officer Safety Initiative, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno met with the law enforcement agency heads of Hidalgo, Starr, Cameron and Willacy Counties to discuss the most serious threats currently facing our officers and ways to protect and enhance their safety.

The AG's initiative was launched in March 2011 in response to the dramatic rise in the number of federal, state and local officers killed in the line of duty during the previous 15 months. Last year, 2010, was one of the deadliest years on record for law enforcement in nearly two decades. Even worse, if this tragic trend were to continue, the number of deaths of law enforcement officers killed in 2011 may surpass that of 2010.

In a meeting held Tuesday and hosted by the McAllen Police Department at the department’s Training Facility, U.S. Attorney Moreno met with various city, school district and university police chiefs, sheriffs, constables, the district attorneys in and for Hidalgo and Starr Counties and the Texas Department of Public Safety. A similar meeting, hosted by the Brownsville Police Department at their Westside Community Network Center, was held Monday with law enforcement officials of Cameron and Willacy County.

Topics discussed during each meeting included the potential threats faced by officers and ways to prevent and protect personnel. The discussion included the use to the extent possible of available deconfliction services, which allow officers, prior to conducting enforcement operations, to determine if other agencies are investigating or planning to conduct enforcement operations on the same target, location, or event, thereby lessening the chance of tragic “blue-on-blue” encounters.

U.S. Attorney Moreno also shared information regarding available Department of Justice resource programs including VALOR, a national law enforcement training and technical assistance program whose objective is to train officers to identify, prevent and survive violent encounters by establishing a culture of attentive vigilance and the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program, which provides sworn officers with bullet and stab-resistant body armor.

Following Tuesday's meeting, U.S. Attorney Moreno extended his thanks to McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez and Brownsville Police Chief Oscar Garcia for hosting the meetings and added, "Law enforcement officers throughout the Southern District of Texas put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe for our families to live, work and play. Each of them has my sincerest thanks for the work they do every day. Through these meetings we are working to identify and encourage the utilization of every possible tool, whether it be deconfliction services, additional training and equipment or federal prosecution, to make certain that these same officers return safely home to their families at the end of their tour of duty each day.”

Similar meetings with for law enforcement officials representing the counties constituting the Corpus Christi, Victoria, Galveston and Houston Divisions of the district are planned as well.