April 24, 2007
More on wiretapping in Texas

I briefly mentioned that there are a couple of bills working their way through the Lege that would allow big-city police forces to do wiretaps, instead of having to go through the Department of Public Safety. Grits explains why this is a wasteful boondoggle:

[A]ccording to wiretapping statistics reported annually to the Department of Justice, four of these six departments did not engage in a single wiretap between 1998 and 2005, the last year for which statistics are available. In no year did Texas judges approve more than five wiretaps, and a couple of years none were authorized in the entire state!

So why should local taxpayers in these six cities pay for training and equipment when wiretapping is so rarely used in Texas? Right now the Department of Public Safety manages all wiretaps statewide, and given the low volume involved - and the fact that most big city PDs aren't using wiretaps - it doesn't make a lot of sense to create redundant capacity at these six agencies.

Indeed. This is about as good an argument as I can think of for centralization. I don't understand the rationale for changing it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 24, 2007 to That's our Lege

Big cities would have a good time doing wiretaps. It would be like how New York City did all that work to investigate people who were going to protest at 2004 Republican convention.

If Houston PD had the power they would find a use and an abuse for the power. They might have people wiretapping on overtime and demand more money for wiretapping budget.

These things said, I'd hope that I would merit a wiretap at some point. That would be a measure of arrival in some respects.

Posted by: Texas Liberal on April 24, 2007 11:35 AM