April 25, 2007
Letter from border police chiefs regarding HB13

I received the following in email late yesterday:

To Whom It May Concern:

This is an open letter to the media, our state legislators, and the Texas community as a whole that serves the purpose of voicing our collective concern regarding HB 13, which was recently voted out of the House Committee on State Affairs and is set to go to the House floor for a vote in the near future. In our opinion, HB 13 is severely flawed as written and needs to be amended before it can begin to serve the purpose it claims to serve, which is the protection of the citizens of our state.

While we do not make it common practice to get involved in political debates, we feel we cannot in good conscience abstain from voicing our concerns regarding HB 13, as we are responsible for the safety and well-being of the citizens of our communities. We feel it necessary to explain that most of us were unaware of the existence of this piece of legislation regarding Homeland Security and the disbursement of $100 million in funds to law enforcement entities until very recently, as we were never contacted or consulted on the matter. This is despite the fact that we, as municipal police chiefs, are responsible for the security and protection of the majority of people both along the border area and across the state as a whole.

I'm going to put the rest of it beneath the fold, as it's a big lengthy. It's funny - we've got prosecutors and advocates for victims of sexual assault opposing "Jessica's Law", and now we've got police chiefs opposing a Homeland Security bill. Is there anything that the state leadership is pushing that the people on the receiving end actually want?

Click on for more.

Letter continues:

Our fundamental concern is that HB 13 gives a civilian and political office, the Governor's State Office of Homeland Security, the authority to develop, administer, and execute programs that should be under a law enforcement agency. As law enforcement professionals, we feel it would be wise to transfer command and control of all of the border security and other activities of the Office of Homeland Security from the Office of the Governor to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). DPS is best equipped to develop and administer these programs as well as the money it takes to run them, as they are the premier law enforcement agency in our state. DPS already works with local law enforcement and is familiar with our needs. DPS also has experience in conducting audits, administering performance tools, and evaluating success.

Another major concern is that HB13 creates a Border Security Council that will decide where the funding for border security programs will go as well as measure the outcomes of those programs. The council consists of the director of the Sate Office of Homeland Security, the public safety director of DPS, and the executive director of the Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition. Municipal police departments, including those that are local along the border, are not included in this decision-making body. We feel this severely jeopardizes our ability to obtain any of the funding the council will administer.

In addition, the State Office of Homeland Security will, with advice from the Border Security Council, decide how to allocate funds for homeland security related activities in the state as well as monitor the success of those programs. Again, we are not included in this decision-making process and feel this will directly and negatively affect our chances of obtaining funding through these programs.

Our concerns are based on that fact that the programs that have thus far been administered and funded by the Governor's Office of Homeland Security have been solely focused on providing money to border sheriffs. Municipal police departments, including those along the border, have been virtually shut-out by the border security programs so far administered by the Governor's Office of Homeland Security. We fear the current language in HB 13 will permit this practice to continue.

In addition, we are also concerned about the results the Governor's Office of Homeland Security has so far claimed to have obtained through its programs with the border sheriffs. Therefore, we openly question how their statistics and success rates have been calculated.

We believe that these programs have been based on "surge" operations thus far. Using the "surge" tactic may in instances temporarily reduce crime in an area while the operation is undergoing, but it in no way produces a sustained effect. In fact, we recommend the DPS practice of disrupting and dismantling crime rather than the method currently used by the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, which is disrupting and deterring crime and includes these "surge" operations.

Let us be clear in that we do not oppose funding and support to the sheriffs of our state. In fact, we applaud and encourage it, as we feel it is important that all law enforcement personnel receive adequate and fair funding and support from the state. However, without proper organization, administration, and oversight, we feel that the money will not be used in the most efficient and successful way possible, as we feel has been the case thus far. Once again, we believe that DPS as a law enforcement agency would be much better equipped to ensure that programs related to both border security and Homeland Security as a whole are well-scrutinized and produce the results we all want to see.

Finally, we must note that our interpretation of HB 13 leads us to believe that we will be required to enforce federal immigration laws. While we currently cooperate with the federal agencies regarding this matter, we do not feel that we are equipped in terms of training or manpower to enforce federal immigration laws as HB 13 requires.

We call on our legislators to take into consideration our concerns, the concerns of other law enforcement professionals, and the concerns of everyday citizens when making the decision of whether or not to support HB 13 as it is currently written.

We feel that any legislator that is genuinely concerned with equipping the Texas law enforcement community with what it needs to combat all kinds of crime, including drug trafficking and smuggling along the border area, should demand that major changes be made to HB 13 before supporting it.

Because we believe that our state leaders should make an effort to include input from those of us most affected by the outcome of HB 13, we make ourselves available to these legislators to speak directly with them.

We thank you for your time and your attention to this matter.


Chief Fred Garza
Uvalde Police Department
964 W. Main
Uvalde, TX 78801
(830) 278-9147

Chief R. L. McVay
Castroville Police Department
411 London St.
Castroville, TX 78009
(830) 931-2222

Chief Waylon Bullard
Del Rio Police Department
110 E. Broadway
Del Rio, TX 78840
(830) 774-8576

Chief Eden N. Garcia
Falfurrias Police Department
203 E. Allen
Falfurrias, TX 78355
(361) 325-5041

Chief John V. Martinez
Hondo Police Department
1101 16th St.
Hondo, TX 78861
(830) 426-5353

Chief Andrew W. Aston
La Coste Police Department
16004 S. Front
La Coste, TX 78039-0112
(830) 985-9494

Chief James W. Bush
Somerset Police Department
7360 E. 6th St.
Somerset, TX 78069
(830) 622-5611

Chief Vance E. Roberts
Three Rivers Police Department
PO Box 398
Three Rivers, TX 78071-0398
(361) 786-2743

Chief Ray Garcia
George West Police Department
404 Nueces St.
George West, TX 78022-2250
(361) 449-3800

Chief Ricardo Torres
Kingsville Police Department
1700 E. King
Kingsville, TX 78363
(361) 592-4211

Chief Jose H. Garcia
Roma Police Department
PO Box 947
Roma, TX 78584-0947
(956) 849-2231

Chief Carlos Pena
Robstown Police Department
PO Box 626
Robstown, TX 78380-0626
(361) 387-3531

Chief Daniel J. Bueno
Alice Police Department
415 E. Main
Alice, TX 78332
(361) 664-0186

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 25, 2007 to That's our Lege

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and other ambitious politicians understand fully well that most voters don't pay much attention to the details. So, the details don't matter as the sound bites do. Dewhurst will be able to run for governor and say that he was tough on sexual predators, protecting kids, much the same way that Gov. Perry ran on tax cuts. Of course, neither Jessica's Law nor the tax cuts will actually have much impact on reality, but who cares? We elected these people - we have only ourselves to blame.

Posted by: Dennis on April 25, 2007 6:52 AM