FY 2021 4th Quarter Comprehensive STEP Stat Totals

The largest portion of traffic safety funding from TxDOT is used for the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) projects, which pay for overtime activities by local law enforcement to reduce the incidence of speeding, driving while intoxicated, failure to use occupant restraint systems, distracted driving (cell phones), and intersection traffic control violations. Organizations eligible for STEP funds include the Texas Department of Public Safety, Sheriff’s Offices, Constable’s Offices, and local Police Departments.

The following hazardous citations were written during the 4th Quarter (July – September) Comprehensive STEP.

Speed – 453

Intersections – 12

Distracted Driving (Cell Phone Use) – 5

Seat Belt Violation (Adult) – 55

Seat Belt Violation (Child) – 1

In addition to the hazardous citations, the following citations, warnings or arrests were issued or made.

Non- Hazardous – 66

Written Warnings – 128

Arrests – 0

A total of 278.5 STEP hours were worked by officers and 2,615 miles were driven.

FY 2021 Comprehensive STEP totals (October 2020 – September 2021):

Speed – 1620

Intersections – 61

Distracted Driving (Cell Phone Use) – 8

Seat Belt Violation (Adult) – 122

Seat Belt Violation (Child) – 1

Non- Hazardous – 224

Written Warnings – 446

Arrests – 1

Hours Worked – 986.5

Miles Driven – 8814

Remember to buckle up and slow down.  Your life and the lives of others depend on it!

#EndtheStreakTX

Deputy Chief Richard “R.W.” Smith Passes Away

It is with a very heavy heart that we report the passing of Deputy Chief Richard “R.W.” Smith following his long battle with cancer.

Deputy Chief Smith began his career with the WFPD in 1983 and graduated from our 41st Police Academy.

He had served our community for over 38 years.

Please keep his friends and family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Services are pending.

Deputy Chief Smith, rest easy brother. We have the watch from here!

Officer Involved Shooting News Release

The WFPD received a call this morning at about 7:40 am in regard to a domestic assault at 2507 8th street. The victim reported that her 17-year-old son had assaulted her and pointed a handgun at her.

The mother was able to leave the house and meet the responding officers at a near-by location.

Other officers set a perimeter around the house and attempted to call the suspect, Gabriel Varela, out of the house. However, Varela refused to exit the house.

WFPD detectives obtained a search warrant in order to arrest Varela for Aggravated Assault/Family Violence.

The WFPD SWAT team responded to the scene due to the high-risk nature of the situation.

Varela continued to ignore the requests by WFPD Negotiators to exit the house.

At about 1:15 pm, Varela exited to the rear of the house and fired shots at officers on the SWAT team.

Return fire from the SWAT team struck Varela. Sadly, Varela was declared deceased on the scene.

No officers were injured. The investigation of this incident is on-going.

Please keep the family of Gabriel Varela and the involved officers in your prayers.

Arrests Made in School Vandalism Case

WFPD officers responded to John Tower Elementary School located at 5200 Hooper on 09-12-21 at about 9:50 am to investigate a possible burglary of the building.

The officers found extensive property damage in the school. WFPD detectives responded to the scene. Photographs of the suspects were gathered from the school security footage. The photos were placed on the WFPD social media.

The WFPD received a Crime Stoppers tip later in the afternoon of 09-12-21 which aided in identifying the suspects.

The WFPD Juvenile Detectives arrested two 12-year-old males on the morning of 09-16-2021 for Burglary of Building and Criminal Mischief. The dollar value of the damage that was done to the school property is estimated at approximately $55,000.00.

The WFPD praises our citizens for the continued support and tips we receive through our Crime Stoppers program.

Juvenile Suspect Arrested

A 15-year-old male was arrested today just south of Dallas, Texas under a Directive to Apprehend order related to a burglary of a residence that occurred here in Wichita Falls this Summer.

Once the juvenile male is transported to the Wichita County Juvenile Detention Center, WFPD Juvenile Detectives plan to file more charges on the male related to the recent bomb threats.

A Crime Stoppers tip aided the WFPD in identifying the juvenile male as the suspect. Thank you for your help, Wichita Falls!

This was a coordinated effort between several agencies including but not limited to the WFPD, FBI, U.S. Marshals, Staff and Students of the WFISD, and Texas DPS. Outstanding work by all!

More Bomb Threats at Local Schools

On 08-13-21, at approx 1345hrs, officers responded to a bomb threat at Hirschi High School. Over the course of the next hour, 4 more threats came in at Rider, Old High, Barwise, and Kirby.

All 5 schools activated their emergency protocols and evacuated the students while the buildings were cleared in a multi-jurisdictional effort. Once the buildings had been cleared and no bombs were found, students were returned to the schools for their normal dismissal activites.

This is the second day in a row that these types of threats have been called in. We are asking anyone with any information about who may be making these threats to call us immediately. Terroristic Threats are a violation of the law and will be taken seriously.

Wichita Falls Crime Stoppers is offering a $2500 reward in the case. To call in an anonymous tip, please call 940-322-9888.

Bomb Threat Investigation – All Clear

UPDATE: The building has been cleared and no bombs were found. However, the case will remain under investigation. Terroristic Threats are a violation of the law and will be taken seriously. If any one has any information about this threat, or know who may have called it in, please call Crime Stoppers at 940-322-9888.

Wichita Falls Police and Fire Units, along with resources from Sheppard Air Force Base, are on scene at Old High, 2149 Avenue H, due to a reported bomb threat.

At this time, all students and faculty have been evacuated. Most students have left for the day or have been picked up from school.

As a precaution, all participating agencies will remain on the scene until the investigation is complete and the building has been cleared.

Although no bomb has been located at this time, we do ask the public to avoid the area until further notice.

We will update you with more information as soon as we have it.

Fugitives Captured After Failed Evading Attempt

GREAT WORK BY EVERYONE INVOLVED TODAY!!!

On 08-11-21, at approx. 1108 hrs, WFPD officers located a red Kia Sportage with an inoperable brake light travelling northbound on Kemp. The vehicle also matched the description of one used in a recent Aggravated Robbery case. Officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, but the vehicle would not stop and attempted to flee, breaking several other traffic laws in the process. The vehicle was subsequently stopped at the intersection of 8th & Denver and the driver, 18-year-old Sara Chandler, was arrested and charged with Evading Arrest/Detention with a Vehicle.

Prior to the stop, two males had exited the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. Both males, who had active felony arrest warrants, were captured in the area and arrested. They were identified as 22-year-old Javier Castro and 21-year-old Remarcus Donnell.

Javier Castro had an active warrant (01-162341, $750,000.00 Bond) for an Aggravated Robbery that occurred at Sam’s Dollar Saver, 1400 Holliday St., on 08-09-21 (WFPD Case #21-08535). He was also charged with Evading Arrest/Detention and Resisting Arrest/Search/Transportation.

Remarcus Donnell had an active warrant (01-162336, $750,000.00 Bond) for Burglary of a Habitation with the Intent to Commit Other Felony from a home invasion type burglary that occurred on 08-04-21 in the 1300 blk of Bell St. (WFPD Case #21-08238). He was also charged with Evading Arrest/Detention.

It should be noted that we also served an arrest warrant for Burglary of a Habitation with the Intent to Commit Other Felony on 20-year-old Lonnie Clark yesterday for the Bell St. burglary mentioned above (01-162335, $750,000.00 Bond). He was already in custody for other crimes, so the warrant was served at the jail.

Wichita Falls Crime Stoppers tips were instrumental in both cases, and we would like to thank the community for their support and participation in keeping Wichita Falls safe!