City council approves purchase of new police vehicles with Operation Lone Star, city funds

MARFA — Marfa City Council last week voted to approve the purchase of five new Marfa Police Department vehicles using grant money from Governor Greg Abbot’s Operation Lone Star and city funds.

The city will use grant monies obtained from Operation Lone Star, a program created by Governor Greg Abbott to beef up border defense efforts in the state, and budgeted funds. The new police vehicles, which will be black Chevrolet Tahoes, are expected to arrive by the summer. 

The city was awarded $311,000 from Operation Lone Star and will put $211,000 toward the new vehicles, along with $30,000 of city funds. In total, the city will spend $321,000 for the new police fleet and pay the remaining $81,000 over the next two years. 

Police Chief Estévan Marquez said the used vehicles the department has been driving since 2018 require frequent maintenance. But the new fleet will be fitted with proper alternators and batteries that are equipped to handle police lights and radios.

“I’m just really excited that the officers will be able to have some vehicles that are actually functional,” said Chief Marquez. “This is a great way to put those costs down on maintenance and have some vehicles that are actually equipped to handle the functions of police patrol.”

City Manager Mandy Roane said the new cars are essential tools that will allow the police force to do their job safely. 

“Because right now they are not able to do their job safely in the equipment we have provided for them. They’re sharing vehicles and, personally, I think it is disrespectful to ask them to put their lives on the line, and to work that hard, and we will not give them the equipment that they need to do their job to protect our community,” said Roane.  

Governor Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, a joint operation between the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard, in March 2021 “to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas” by sending personnel and equipment to “high threat areas” along the southern border. In December, having already dedicated $74.8 million to the operation, the governor announced that an additional $38.4 million would be sent to border counties to support law enforcement, jails and court administration.