Police officers learn ways to prevent and respond to violence in - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Police officers learn ways to prevent and respond to violence in Texas

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Tuesday, law enforcement officers from across the state gathered in East Texas to learn more about keeping their communities safe from gangs, drug cartels and school violence. Tuesday was the first time since 1958 that the Texas Police Association met in Tyler.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith and Texas Ranger Brent Davis took a ballroom full of officers back to 2010, when a series of arsons destroyed churches all across the region.

In another session, a retired police chief from Massachusetts described the role of local law enforcement during the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

"It could happen anywhere," says guest speaker Tom Shamshak.

Shamshak is now a private investigator and law enforcement analyst.

"Local law enforcement is the immediate response on the streets of America to these terror attacks. Officers need to be vigilant. They can never be complacent," he says.

Shamshak says it's local law enforcement's responsibility to have the training and tools to respond to incidents like what happened in Boston.

"What the officers need to do is to be trained to identify the nuances in behavior, looking for deceptive behavior, people who are disguised, people who discard items," Shamshak says.

"The ultimate objective is to have safe streets and to have safe communities," says Texas Police Association Executive Director Erwin Ballarta.

To achieve that, the Texas Police Association will cover multiple topics over multiple days.

"We had someone also who was in gangs, especially dealing in with it in our own community. You would think that gangs are in the metroplexes, but they're coming into the smaller areas," says Ballarta.

"We're able to learn everything here and take everything back and forward it and spread it among ourselves. We need each other. Law enforcement, we're a big family and we've got to share information with each other," says Point Police Chief Serena Booth.

Other topics at the conference included mental preparedness for active shooter situations and assisting first responders, victims and their families in critical situations.

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