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Dewhurst Tasks Lawmakers With Border Security Efforts

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Wednesday charged lawmakers with examining a recent crime enforcement surge effort in the Rio Grande Valley and making recommendations on how to implement similar operations in the future.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst explains the gallery rules for the second special session as Senate Parliamentarian Karina Davis listens on July 1, 2013.

Following a three-week initiative led by the Texas Department of Public Safety to combat crime in the Rio Grande Valley, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has called on a state Senate committee to make recommendations on how best to secure the border.

In interim charges to the the Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security Committee, Dewhurst asked members to “examine the implementation and effectiveness” of Operation Strong Safety, which between Sept. 15 to Oct. 4 added additional security in the Rio Grande Valley, mainly to combat growing crimes in the region like human and drug trafficking. DPS cited a drop in drug seizures and felony pursuits as a result of the operation.

Dewhurst asked the Senate committee to “make recommendations on options for the improvement and expansion of future surge operations.” 

“With Operation Strong Safety, we have proof of what happens when we apply the right resources to our biggest problems,” Dewhurst said at a press conference Wednesday. “So I’m here today to talk about this operation and what we can do on a continuous surge operation to substantially shut down our border.”

Dewhurst said he would push to add $60 million worth of border enforcement per year until the border is secure. He said that funding could be approved before the end of the year and that he has called on Gov. Rick Perry and House Speaker Joe Straus to aid with the effort. He added that law enforcement officials have already begun planning how to use those funds so that additional surge operations can be immediately implemented. 

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at the press conference that future efforts would not include regulatory checkpoints that were used during Operation Strong Safety. The checkpoints provoked public outcry and were mainly effective at reducing driver’s license and insurance violations, as opposed to more dangerous crimes. 

Dewhurst said that the state does not receive adequate support from the federal government in battling border crime and that future state initiatives should serve as an example for the federal government. 

“When we get through with the final price tag, I’m going to send an invoice to President Obama,” Dewhurst said.

Dewhurst also said that current crime statistics don’t truly reflect organized crime throughout the state because they don't include enough data on human and drug trafficking. He charged the Senate committee with studying current crime reporting practices and making recommendations on using other crime reporting systems. 

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David Dewhurst