SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Crime doesn’t end when a pandemic begins, so members of the East Texas Anti-Gang Center (TAG) in Smith County had their work cut out for them even during COVID-19.
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said the division launched in mid-March, even when COVID-19 cases continued to rise in the county and around the state.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the TAG isn’t able to have all of its outside entities under one roof yet.
“Even though we’re not having our Monday morning intelligence briefings with all the outlying agencies being able to come in,” said Smith. “Everything else is working as well, if not better, than we expected when we got this whole gang unit concept together.”
Smith said the TAG is still operating and has had some successful cases already.
“We’ve had two very successful operations with the Texas Anti-Gang unit,” said Smith. “It’s working like clockwork. We’re very proud of the TAG and I think the citizens of Smith, Gregg, Harrison, Rusk, Henderson, Van Zandt and Wood Counties are going to be very proud of not only what we’re doing here, but to maintain the continuity of an investigation that takes you into another county.”
Smith said the center is hoping to have a grand opening, with the Governor present, when it’s safe to do so.
“All the TAGs in Texas come out of the Governor’s office, so he’s very cognizant of what’s going on in each one of the TAGs, he gets briefed all the time,” said Smith. “So, he will be at the grand opening as will all of the executive board committee members and all of the outlying agencies. We’re hoping to invite them all to the grand opening of the TAG and make it a good event and by that time we should have a good many more positive things to show that are being done because of the TAG.”
Smith said having access to other anti-gang centers across the state is just as important as having multiple agencies under one roof.