Police Sergeant Daniel Walden loves his full-time job working with the Donna Independent School District’s Police Department. He is just as passionate about his role volunteering at the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office.
Walden is able to serve as a Brooks County Reserve Deputy because of an organization he founded three years ago called The Texas Blue Shield, formerly known as The Border Brotherhood of Texas. There are now 14 non-paid members on his team, each with a background in law enforcement. Six of them come from Donna ISD’s police force.
“When I first went up to Brooks County, I saw the situation that the sheriff’s department was in,” Walden said. “I met with the chief deputy and he told me about the lack of funds and manpower issues they were facing in the department. One deputy would work 16-hour shifts by himself covering 1,000 square miles. I saw this as a massive ‘I need help’ and that’s when I decided I needed to do something.”
Walden, who also teaches law enforcement classes throughout South Texas, asked the officers in attendance if they would be interested in donating some of their time to patrol Brooks County. He also reached out to others via social media to solicit much-needed equipment. By the time Walden knew it, he had new members and financial support.
“The Brooks County Sheriff’s Office didn’t have the funds to assist us so I had to figure out a way for us to start the program,” Walden said. “I posted messages on Facebook and sent out emails to other officers saying that we needed equipment and we needed help. One of our reserve deputies who works for the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office was the first to come in and give us money for vests. Several others followed with their own donations. I even gave a lot of my money and held fundraisers.”
Walden admits that his volunteer work in Brooks County is more intense and more dangerous than his administrative role at Donna ISD. But he said he and his team members serve because they want to protect the local community and help save the lives of people who enter the United States illegally.
“When we started patrolling the Brooks County brushland three years ago, the death rate was very high,” Walden said. “Whether someone is here illegally or not, they are human beings and they don’t deserve to die. Despite the risks involved, my team wants to be where we can really make a difference, where we can save lives, where we can stop somebody from being a victim of smuggling or trafficking.”
Walden set up a Go Fund Me account in hopes of raising money to turn the Texas Blue Shield into a non-profit organization. Achieving this status will allow him opportunities to seek funding for more equipment and recruit more deputy volunteers to help neighboring Brooks County.
“One thing about police officers is that we’re a brotherhood,” Walden said. “When you become a police officer, you don’t have the same friends that you used to have, you don’t have the same lifestyle. Everything changes when you’re a police officer, personally and professionally but one thing is for sure in law enforcement — when somebody calls on the radio needing help, you’re going to drop whatever it is that you’re doing and you’re going to go help them.”