Tag Archives: DPS

Border madness must be handled

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am going to concede that conditions on our nation’s southern border need attention, they need serious repair, they need an administration that is willing to get tougher than it has been so far.

A neighbor of mine is a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who is leaving soon for a temporary-duty assignment southeast of Laredo.

He describes the situation on the border as “an out of control mess.”

My neighbor blames President Biden’s administration for it. He didn’t say so directly, but I believe he endorsed the Donald Trump administration policy of rounding up undocumented immigrants, fast-tracking their status while being held and then sending them back to the country from which they fled.

The Biden administration approach is more an “open border” matter. I reminded him that the border isn’t “open” and that Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are stopping illegal immigration every single day.

He acknowledged that but said that the Biden administration’s more tolerant policy is enticing people to flee to this country.

I get that Joe Biden has taken a dramatically different approach to undocumented immigration than the one used by his immediate predecessor. However, I will not accept the notion that our borders are “open” and available for anyone to enter this country.

My neighbor, though, is joining other DPS troopers to assist local and federal law enforcement officials in doing their job. He believes this DPS involvement will last a while, that the situation along our border is too grave to clear up over the short term.

He is a bright young man. I will accept his diagnosis of the problem.

However, I am going to swallow the hook that contends that an “open border policy” is to blame for it.

This matter needs a concerted federal and state effort to resolve. I am going to hold out hope that Gov. Greg Abbott will resist the temptation to hurl blame and insults and will get to working with the president and his team to resolve this matter.

Wild ride through ‘hood

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s just chalk this up to something one doesn’t see very every day.

My wife was tracking a high speed chase from Dallas, north along U.S. 75 toward McKinney. An idiot had stolen an ambulance and the cops were in hot pursuit. Then the moron turned east at McKinney down U.S. 380.

Where do you suppose he went? The dipsh** turned the stolen vehicle down our street … at a very high rate of speed. The sirens were blaring behind him.

Then came the cops. I counted about a dozen police vehicles. From McKinney, Texas Department of Public Safety, from Princeton PD, from the Collin County Sheriff’s Department, a couple of unmarked cruisers.

They roared west behind the moron, who had turned the ambulance south through some new home construction.

At this moment, I do not know the status of the chase.

This is when the cops earn their keep. Man, I hope they nab that lunatic. Oh, and if the ambulance missed a call that resulted in the death of a patient who needed medical attention, they need to throw — at minimum — a manslaughter charge at the loon.

***

This just in: The police caught the nimrod in McKinney. May they find the biggest book they can lift and toss it at him. Film at 6 and at 10 … 

Abbott threatens overreach

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is angry with the Austin City Council.

He is so angry that he is threatening to meddle into a level of government that is none of the governor’s business. He said the city’s decision to “defund” its police department might result in the state imposing a property tax freeze, which would deprive the city of any sort of budgeting flexibility, which is essential to the governing body.

C’mon, governor! What happened to your belief in local control?

The judgment on whether the city council acted wisely in defunding the police department and reallocating funds to human service programs is up to the voters of the city. It is not the governor’s call!

The council voted to cut $150 million from the police department’s $434 million annual budget. Is that the right call? It’s not for me to decide, or for the governor, either. The decision should come from the city’s voting public.

This is a reactionary decision on the part of the governor. The Dallas Morning News published an editorial that takes appropriate note of the governor’s decision to deploy Department of Public Safety troopers to cities to help fight spikes in crime, which he did this past year in Dallas. That’s all fine and is in keeping with the governor’s commitment to protecting the safety of Texans.

The DMN editorial also points out that budget matters belong solely to the city. The governor should butt out! Read the editorial here.

The governor should concentrate on issues that are relevant to the constitutional authority invested in his office, not seek to meddle in matters that belong exclusively to our cities.

Dallas crime spike prompts needed state response

This is a story that piques my interest a bit more these days, given that I now live at the doorstep of a major American city.

Dallas has seen a huge spike in violent crime. Transgender women in particular have been killed at an alarming rate. The city registered 40 homicides in the past month, the greatest amount since the 1990s.

Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the Department of Public Safety into the fray, sending Texas Rangers — the elite DPS investigative arm — to assist in trying to solve these crimes.

It’s the kind of story we don’t hear too much about, but it’s quite obviously a serious problem that one might say is approaching crisis mode.

I am unaware of any extra precautions my community, Princeton, is taking in the wake of this major uptick in criminal activity. Then, of course, we have our granddaughter living even closer to Big D, with her parents and older brother. Yes, we worry about them, too — which quite obviously goes without saying.

Now, though, stories such as major-city crime spikes such as what is occurring in Dallas make us pay just a little more attention.

By all means, Gov. Abbott, send in the DPS to help the local cops.

Indictment gives us more dots to connect

As if this case didn’t have enough mystery attached to it.

A Dallas County grand jury today indicted a former police officer of murder in the shooting death of a man who was gunned down in his own apartment.

Former Dallas Police Department officer Amber Guyger walked into Botham Jean’s apartment earlier this year and allegedly shot him to death. She said at the time she mistakenly entered his residence, thinking it was her own.

OK. My first reaction was . . . huh? The apartments are on separate floors.

It didn’t take DPD long to fire Guyger after the Sept. 6 shooting. There were protests in Dallas over Jean’s death. Incidentally, Guyger is white; Jean, a native of St. Lucia, was a black man. The racial element of this crime hasn’t risen to the forefront of the community debate. It might eventually.

It gets even weirder.

The Texas Rangers, the crack investigative arm of the Department of Public Safety, charged Guyger with manslaughter. The case then went to the grand jury, which decided today to level the more serious charge of murder against the former officer.

Botham Jean has been described as an upstanding young man, active in his church, a fine individual. I don’t know much about Guyger, about what kind of an officer she was.

What strikes me as strange is that the grand jury, after hearing the evidence and the criminal complaint delivered by the district attorney’s office, would elevate the charge. Manslaughter implies a crime that was committed without intent to take someone’s life; a murder charges alleges that someone intended to take another person’s life.

This case is full of unconnected dots. Some more of them might have emerged with this indictment. I have two related questions: Did Amber Guyger know Botham Jean and was there a reason other than it being a simple mistake that she allegedly entered his apartment and then shot him to death?

The trial will tell us.

This story saddens me terribly.

Nothing ‘routine’ about police work

I once got schooled and scolded by a law enforcement official after I reported an incident I referred to as a “routine traffic stop.”

That was nearly 40 years ago. I did it once. I was told by this individual, who worked for a sheriff’s department in Oregon, that “there’s nothing routine” about a traffic stop.

Lesson learned.

Today, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled someone over in a traffic stop just south of Dallas. The man shot the trooper to death. The suspect fled and was captured in Waller County north of Houston.

Nothing ‘routine’ here

I don’t have any details of the traffic stop. All I can presume is that the trooper never expected that the stop would be the last duty he’d ever perform as a law enforcement officer.

This puts in the starkest terms possible about the dangers our police officers face whenever they put on the uniform and go to work every single day. They suit up, say goodbye to their loved ones and expect to return home at the end of the day.

Traffic stops are supposed to be “routine,” but too often they can erupt in violence.

One of those traffic stops did so today. With tragic results.

This is one of those news accounts that breaks my heart and fills me with immense respect for those who swear to “serve and protect” the public.

Bland jail death case still not resolved

bland

One can make at least this assumption about the arrest of a young woman.

It is that she well might be alive today if the Texas state trooper who arrested her had followed proper police procedure.

Sandra Bland, though, is dead after hanging herself in her Waller County jail cell. The Department of Public Safety trooper, Brian Encinia, has been indicted by a grand jury for falsifying the circumstances of Bland’s arrest.

DPS commander Col. Steve McCraw has told the Texas Tribune that the trooper blew it and that the agency is going to terminate the officer.

Now . . . is there cause for a wrongful death lawsuit, which Bland’s parents have filed against the state? I don’t know and I hate to speculate about that matter.

Bland was pulled over this past year in a traffic stop. She and Encinia got into an argument after Bland allegedly failed to signal properly prior to making a lane change. The trooper, rather than calming the young woman down, escalated the argument. She left her vehicle and, according to the trooper, struck him while he was taking her into custody.

To think that someone is thrown into the slammer for a lane-change violation. Good grief.

Well, the grand jury doubted the allegation that Bland had struck Encinia. Hence, the indictment.

This case drew national attention after corrections officers found Bland dead in her jail cell. I don’t believe she was killed by authorities in the lockup, which some had speculated. I believe she took her own life.

But the root cause of the entire tragic situation goes back to the arresting officer and his abject failure to follow proper policy.

I hope this incident has awakened police officers and their commanders to the dangers of every-day police work.

What’s more, I also hope it drives home the point that no traffic stop is never, ever routine.

***

See the video of Col. McCraw’s interview with Texas Tribune editor in chief Evan Smith.

http://www.texastribune.org/2016/01/19/video-a-conversation-with-steve-mccraw/

 

Lawmakers right to grill DPS head over Bland arrest

Texas legislators are putting the head of the state’s police agency on the hot seat.

He needs to stay there until he can offer some remedy for an incident that resulted in the tragic death of a young woman who was arrested for a traffic violation.

Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw came under fire this week in a Texas House committee hearing over the arrest of Sandra Bland by a DPS trooper; Bland later died in a Waller County jail after apparently hanging herself in her cell.

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/07/30/lawmakers-review-county-jail-procedures-following-/

“I know the death happened in the jail, but the catalyst for the death clearly happened at the traffic stop,” state Rep. Jonathan Strickland, R-Bedford said.

The catalyst was a confrontation between Bland and Trooper Brian Encinia, who pulled Bland over after she failed to signal before making a turn in her vehicle. He asked her to extinguish her cigarette.Then matters got ugly.

Bland sassed the officer, who then became agitated. Bland then became angry. Encinia got even angrier. The trooper then pulled his Taser out and threatened to “light you up” with the device.

Bland and Encinia exchanged more heated insults. She exited the vehicle and was taken to jail.

And for what? Because she didn’t use her turn signal.

Strickland also wondered aloud why the trooper is still on the job, to which McCraw answered that the agency has a process that he intends to follow before deciding how to handle Encinia’s future with DPS.

The incident, which has drawn international attention, needs a thorough examination. McCraw has promised to provide one.

One avenue that needs exploring is how a trooper — who is supposedly trained to de-escalate tension with the public — actually took it in the opposite — and tragically wrong direction.

Never argue with those who carry guns

Sandra Bland likely would be alive today if she had followed a rule that I’ve followed my entire adult life: Never argue with someone packing a pistol.

Having said that, I want to stipulate in the strongest terms possible that the pistol-packing principal in Bland’s fateful confrontation never should have done what he did to escalate a minor traffic stop into what has turned into a shameful example of police intimidation.

Bland died in a Waller County jail cell after being arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Enciana, who stopped Bland’s vehicle after she allegedly made a turn without signaling properly. As the Dallas Morning News editorial attached here notes, what should have been a routine ticket-writing event turned into a mind-boggling tragedy.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20150722-editorial-troopers-bad-decisions-set-sandra-bland-tragedy-in-motion.ece

The editorial explains what happened. No need to detail it here.

What’s equally mind-boggling is that the DPS is a first-rate law enforcement agency. Its officers are well-trained and are taught to use restraint to cool down potentially explosive situations. Enciana did precisely the opposite. He ordered Bland to extinguish her cigarette; why he did that perhaps is the first great mystery of that case.

Granted, Bland didn’t react well. But as the Morning News editorial pointed, out Enciana is the one with the training — and he’s the one carrying the weaponry.

Maybe the most mind-bending element of all is that later today, when I leave my house to run some errands, I am likely to see dozens of people doing precisely what Bland supposedly did that caused Trooper Enciana to pull her over. Drivers routinely “break the law” by failing to signal their turns; indeed, I’ve actually seen law enforcement personnel doing the very same thing.

Someone, somewhere will have to explain how this case turned so terribly tragic.

We’re all ears out here.