By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Today, a significant development unfolded in Mission Texas. The city announced a transformative safety initiative, declaring itself a ‘No Refusal City.’ This initiative represents a commitment to community protection, addressing residents and visitors alike in Mission.
The Police Department is set to elaborate on the policy, which involves a year-round, the effort to combat driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses. This policy marks a departure from seasonal or periodic enforcement, reflecting the department’s response to the alarming statistic of 1,162 fatalities in Texas due to DWI crashes in 2022.
In a significant address to the City of Mission, Police Chief Cesar Torres shared, “approximately 85,000 DWI arrests occur nationwide annually, with around 10,000 resulting in fatalities.” He used this sobering statistic to highlight the need for Mission’s new ‘No Refusal City’ policy, which forbids the refusal of a blood specimen when arrested for suspected DWI.
Chief Torres also introduced an innovative dual-themed squad car, designed as half taxi and half police vehicle, to present a clear choice to the public: the affordable option of an Uber (taxi) for a safe ride home or the costly consequence of a police intervention. This initiative is part of Mission’s proactive strategy for DWI prevention and is aimed at saving lives.
Praising the Mission Police Department for its vigorous approach to DWI enforcement, Chief Torres attributed the city’s advanced policing capabilities to the tireless work of its officers. He highlighted a recent honor in which Mission was selected as one of five departments for a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) campaign, a recognition that is visibly represented by officer De Acosta of the Mission PD, and a special emblem on the squad car.
Chief Torres highlighted the united effort of the police force and its leadership in implementing programs that save lives. He reaffirmed the department’s commitment to public safety and its readiness to do whatever it takes to safeguard the people of Mission. His speech echoed a deep sense of community pride and responsibility, as he thanked everyone for their support and extended his blessings to the city.
In the City of Mission, a determined stance against drinking and driving has been clearly stated. Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, expressing her enthusiasm for the initiative, said, “We are genuinely thrilled about this initiative spearheaded by Chief Torres. He consistently anticipates our needs, often staying a step ahead. I had conceived a similar idea, and when I approached Chief Torres, he was already on it, ready to implement it. This speaks volumes about his foresight and the commitment of our police department.”
“Today is a landmark day for Mission, as we reinforce our commitment to the safety and prosperity of our city. The Year-round No Refusal initiative is more than a mere program; it embodies our dedication to the well-being of our residents. The devastating impact of DWI accidents, including the loss of innocent lives and the grief of affected families, cannot be overstated. Our No Refusal Initiative is a decisive action against such tragedies. It’s our clear message: if you drink and drive, you will face the consequences. There’s no tolerance for drunk driving in our community.”
“Chief Torres, your vision and relentless pursuit of community safety are commendable. I extend my gratitude to you and every officer committed to holding drunk drivers accountable. To everyone in Mission, stay safe, warm, and dry. Rest assured, we are continuously working to protect you and your loved ones. God bless each one of you.”
City Manager Randy Perez addressed the community, stating, “Today, we celebrate the launch of an important initiative, made possible by the foresight and dedication of our mayor and city council. Their exceptional leadership and support have been instrumental in empowering our outstanding police force, led by Chief Torres. We are officially a No Refusal City, a testament to our commitment to the safety of our community.”
“Drunk driving is a serious issue, leading to loss of life and affecting families and the community as a whole. The No Refusal Initiative empowers our officers to obtain blood samples when breathalyzer tests are refused, a critical tool in keeping our streets safe from drunk drivers. With the holiday season approaching, a time unfortunately marked by an increase in drunk driving, this initiative’s timing is crucial. It aims to prevent tragedies that can ruin holiday celebrations.”
“Our initiative stands out for being operational year-round, not just during holidays. This shows our enduring commitment to everyone’s safety, not just during specific times but all year long. By implementing this initiative, we reaffirm our pledge to always protect you, your families, and any visitors to our great city. I want to express my gratitude to Chief Torres and our police department, whose dedication to protecting and serving our community makes us all proud.”
Elizabeth Melendez and her husband Tony Garza, owners of T-N-T Automotive Specialist, spoke about their involvement in the initiative. They expressed their pride in contributing to the community’s safety and aesthetic appeal, highlighting their role in creating the specialized signage for the police unit.