Former HPD sergeant on dangers of serving narcotics-related warrants

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HOUSTON – It’s a job most people don’t hear or think about, but undercover narcotics officers are tasked with taking some of the most dangerous criminals off the streets.

Bobby Roberts is a retired Houston Police Department sergeant and served on the force for 30 years. He worked in the homicide division, worked rape cases, worked in gang units and worked in the undercover narcotics unit as a supervisor at the end of his tenure.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it one time or 500 times, you never know what you’re going into,” Roberts said.

On Monday evening, he received a message from his old partner, who is also retired, about the shooting in southeast Houston.

“It doesn’t even matter what agency it is. It’s an officer and it hits you, but when you find out it’s somebody that you really, really know, it’s like it’s family,” Roberts said. “The four that were shot, I know three. One of them I know very well. I’ve known him my entire career, love the guy. He’s just an amazing man. They all are great guys. I just know one better than the others. The sergeant that was shot -- another incredible guy, phenomenal -- and then the two younger officers -- I met them when I was in narcotics, don’t know them real well, but enough to know them by name.”

Roberts said officers do research and know what they’re looking for before executing a search warrant.

"On a narcotics warrant, you know that they've got felon suspects in there because that's what you're going after, so it heightens it even more so,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the situation is always heightened during narcotics warrants because they know the person they are serving is a felon suspect.

“On this particular warrant, from what I understand, it was a dynamic entry warrant which means they’re going to crash that door and they’re going inside. Their job is to get in as quickly as possible and to secure the people inside as quickly as possible to prevent injury, and it’s that unknown, when you walk up to a closed door, you think you know what’s on the other side, but you never truly know because you don’t know the mindset of the person on the other side,” Roberts said.

He said the goal is to secure the people inside safely, make sure the scene is calm and then do their search for drugs.

There’s a lot of research and preparation before units are sent to a home.

“A case agent, like in this case, he’s the guy that’s doing the leg work and working it up to a warrant and it’s his job to basically do the prep work,” Roberts said.

Roberts said it’s important everyone is focused and the ultimate goal is to get drugs and the people selling them off the streets.

“You’re thinking and hoping and praying that you get in and you get out and everybody goes home, and that includes the people in the house because you don’t want to hurt anybody, you want to get in and do your job and go home,” Roberts said.