Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Texas Highway Patrol Troopers Abuses: How to Control Troopers Subject of Inspector General Report

The Texas Highway Patrol has been around for a long time; most Texans recognize a Trooper on the roads when they see one.  Part of the State of Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Highway Patrol works on over 225,544 miles of rural highways, as well as being responsible for other areas of law enforcement, including directing traffic; investigating traffic accidents; helping during emergencies and public disasters; and partnering with other agencies in criminal investigations such as drug law enforcement.  (For details on what all the Troopers handle, check out their web site.)

In the future, the Troopers may be known as the Texas Navy.  That's because it is the Texas Highway Patrol that will be manning those new boats that will be zipping up and down the Rio Grande as part of our state's border protection.  (See Grits for Breakfast for details here including a photo of the boats they've be using.

So, the Texas Highway Patrol Troopers are a Big Deal in Texas Law Enforcement.  

Nevertheless, in recent years,  Troopers have come under scrutiny and criticism with some folk arguing that the Highway Patrol needs more personnel; others arguing that the Troopers need an internal affairs division to keep things in hand; and still others arguing that the Highway Patrol budget just needs more cash.

At least everyone agrees that something needs to be done.  Why?

Troopers can do bad things.  For example, read our earlier post "Texas Highway Patrolman Mistakes US Army 1st Cavalry for Gang/Drug Organization" or watch the video here.   Another post detailing bad acts by the DPS Highway Patrol: "Texas DPS Officers Indicted for Manhandling Hays County Jail Inmate."

Now, however, it appears that the Powers that Be are checking out the Texas Highway Patrol and trying to figure out what action needs to be taken.  

Houston Chronicle Exposes Details of New Report on Texas Highway Patrol Troopers

Recently, the Houston Chronicle's James Pinkerton wrote a story that detailed a report of the Inspector General that details things that IG Stuart Platt thinks needs to be done within the Texas Highway Patrol.

Curious by its absence is much media coverage about this report and the Chronicle's work at getting a copy of it.  

In its April 1, 2012, article entitled "Report says Texas troopers need more supervision," the IG report is not provided in its entirety, but it is reported to include:

  • an opinion that the DPS Highway Patrol should be given funds to hire more supervisors for the Troopers (i.e., sergeants); 
  • a schedule showing that the complaints about Trooper activity made up almost 70% of all the complaints received against the DPS personnel overall (68%); and 
  • the most common complaint against the Troopers was driving drunk (DWI). 
Here's the thing: does anyone think that these numbers accurately reflect the reality of what Troopers are doing, out there on Texas roads?  Watch that DPS video (above) and think -- how many complains go unreported? How free do Troopers think they are to do as they wish, out there on patrol alone in their black patrol car on a rural Texas roadway?

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