By Allan Jamail
Jacinto City, TX. – January 26, 2021 – It will soon be eight years since the day (March 20, 2013) when Jacinto City’s Lieutenant Dennis Walker was critically wounded while backing-up another officer, Sgt. J. Simpson-Castaneda, who had been dispatched to investigate a family disturbance call with a family member threatening them with a gun.
When Sgt. Castaneda entered the house, the deranged gunman opened fire, the bullet striking her and knocking her to the floor. Lt. Walker heard the gunshots as he arrived and without hesitation ran into the house where the gunman was about to shoot the wounded officer again. Walker got the gunman’s attention away from the wounded officer, preventing her death. The gunman and Walker exchanged shots, and the gunman fled for cover to the bathroom, but not before Walker received multiple gunshots to the chest. The suspect later surrendered and was subsequently sentenced to prison.
Castaneda and Walker were hospitalized, and both underwent months of medical treatments before recovering. Castaneda gave up her police career, but Walker remains in active duty in the police department.
According to Police Chief Joe Ayala, Lt. Walker is a key player in the department and the supervisor over the communications division. He performs detective investigations on homicides, thefts, narcotics and street patrolling. In his off-time, he’s a State Licensed Firearms Instructor.
When North Channel Star writer and former mayor and police chief Allan Jamail interviewed Walker for this story, Jamail asked Walker how being wounded in the gun battle has affected his police work. Lt. Walker said, “It made me more cautious, and it’s given me the life-threatening experience to use to teach other officers about their need to never let their guard down.”
Walker is very proud of the police dispatchers he commands. He said, “Our Communication Specialists play a vital role in providing the community [with a] a top quality police department as well as fire and ambulance service.”
They must have patience, nerves of steel, and not give way to panic when dealing with the public — such as when a mother is screaming for her child to live, or an officer is yelling for a backup when he has a suspect with a gun drawn.
Communication Specialist Leslie Solis is a true emergency dispatcher, always respectfully giving her name when answering the citizens’ phone calls. Dispatchers giving their name and letting a complainant, witness, or crime victim know who they’re talking to has proven to be critical in getting a conviction in criminal court cases. In court, when a defense attorney questions a witness’s accuracy and asks who in the police department did they report or complain to, and the witness is able to give the name of the police dispatcher, it makes their statement about facts, etc., much more believable.
Solis has been with the police department’s communications division nearly eleven years. She has taken Advance Communications Training and the police officers qualification course.
She takes her job seriously, “because during emergencies lives are at risk, so you must remain calm so you can get the job done quickly and accurately, whether it’s dispatching to a fire, ambulance or police call.”