Chattin with the Chief
It's been about a month since Groesbeck Police Department and Mexia Police Department formed a mutual aid agreement. Have y’all been able to work together on any cases so far?
Oh yeah, it's been great. We ran our first joint search warrant here a week or two ago and it was successful. We couldn’t have pulled it off without them helping us with that. Since then, they called us and asked us to assist with locating a wanted person who fled there in Mexia, so there were two of us that went up there to help. It's worked out pretty good, we both recognize our limited resources so it's as simple as picking up the phone, saying ‘this is what I have, do you have anyone that can help us out?’ and if we can we do, if we can’t we don’t. Both of us recognize our priority is our own city, but so far, we’ve been helping each other out each time we’ve called.
Thursday, November 23, State Trooper Damon Allen conducted a traffic stop around 4:00 pm in Freestone County and was shot and killed by the driver, who fled the scene. The man responsible, Darbett Black, was taken into custody in Waller County later that evening after collaborative efforts between the Texas Department of Public Safety and police departments statewide. Can you walk me through what happens when a law enforcement officer pays the ultimate price- both to ensure justice is served and for those men and women in uniform that must continue working?
That is the worst call that you can get, that is the worst call you can hear go out as an officer, the last thing you want to hear is an officer down because we all know what that means. In the midst of all that chaos, the Texas Department of Public Safety being as structured and organized and professional as they are, we’re out here on the fringes scrambling, trying to figure out what we can do and they are like clockwork, they’re able to choreograph this thing.
We were all affected, you’ve got a hometown boy from Mexia. The local DPS encompasses Limestone and Freestone counties, so we share troopers. Like most of us, everybody knows you, they respect you, and that guy coming down the interstate could have easily turned on 14 off of 45, he could have come through Mexia. He could have been in Thornton or Kosse or Groesbeck or any number of places, and he just happened to be on 45 with Trooper Allen. Had that guy been stopped by anybody, I suspect the outcome would have been the same. We all knew Damon, loved Damon, and we’re all affected. Sergeant Wright with the DPS, those are his troops, and that guy in the face of all this has to remain extremely focused because he has a job to do. You know, we as professionals aren’t allowed to fall apart in public or lose focus, because our job is to get that guy. The guys that worked side by side with him took a tremendous hit. I cannot imagine. I lost my best friend years ago when I was at the Sheriff's office, he was killed in the line of duty and it's a horrific thing to go through. I pray for his family and his friends, and clearly the guys in that DPS office of 1221 E. Yeagua because they have to put the uniform on and go back to work. There’s no shutting it down, there’s no ‘hey, we’re not going to do this anymore, we’re not stopping any more cars,” we have to put our stuff back on and go back to work and it's hard.
You have us locally, you know, we want to help, we want to do something to feel that we helped bring that to an end, so the most we can do is look for the car, look for the suspect. We had word that he had turned off 45, so was there a chance he could come through Groesbeck? Absolutely, he could have been anywhere. The officers came in, everything staged, waiting for updates and it wasn’t long after that they called to tell me Waller County was engaged with him.
Social media has become a platform many people use to keep up with news in real time. With this event in particular, updates were available and you shared a dispatch that people at home could listen to for verified information.
One of the officers said you can listen to it on the app so I was on the scanner app, and I shared it on our Facebook page. The thing about that is, when I got on there, there were 354 people listening to that channel. When it ended, I checked it again and there were over 31,000 people listening to that channel. To more than just the obvious people interested, it was enormous, the number of people who tuned into that to hear that come to a conclusion. You had some that wanted him to draw his last breath, and understandably so, but we didn’t play an integral role in that. We did what almost every agency in the state did, we started looking and if we could put hands on him we’d put hands on him. But if you were fortunate enough to listen to that broadcast, you heard a very choreographed, structured capture of that guy.
To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.