Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Records of PD receiving COPS grant seized by DA, Texas Rangers

The other day Grits mentioned that the City of Patton Village - a small municipality of about 1,500 people in Montgomery Couunty - was one of just a handful of Texas jurisdictions to receive a federal COPS grant to hire a new police officer. (The grant pays for salaries and benefits for the officer for three years.) So I was interested to notice soon thereafter a story about the local DA's office and the Texas Rangers executing a search warrant and the Patton Village Police Department. Reported the East Montgomery County Observer (Oct. 6):
Representatives of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office served a search warrant at Patton Village city buildings on Oct. 4 confiscating boxes of documents.

“We are executing search warrants on city buildings to collect various city records based on allegations of misappropriation of city funds,” said Phil Grant, head of the DA’s Public Integrity Unit.

Grant said he cannot comment on what city officials may be targeted in the investigation but noted that records are being searched both at city hall and the Patton Village Police Department.

“This will be ongoing for some time,” he said. “It will take several months for us to accurately review all the records we’re obtaining today.”

Grant said the seized papers will be submitted for forensic analysis. Officials primarily looked for business records to review them for possible illegal activity, he said.
A local TV station reported that, "While the police department continued its patrols Tuesday, the rest of the offices were shut down as the DA's office tries to answer the question of whether or not anyone there misused city funds."

I find it ironic that only five Texas PDs out of 149 requesting COPS grants received them, and almost immediately after they're announced one of the agencies has all its records seized by law enforcement investigating corruption charges. I'm not saying the two things are related: News reports about the raid on Patton Village institutions so far have been awfully vague. It's rather odd, though, for the town to be selected for a much-sought federal grant then see the town's records, including the police department, seized in an investigation over alleged misuse of funds.

Yesterday Grits argued that the proliferation of small police agencies creates problems and that the public would be best served by consolidating law enforcement agencies instead of expanding their number by an average of 15 per year. Examples like this only reinforce this blogger's view.


Anonymous said...

So Scott, what's the angle in your opinion? you think there is real corruption there, or is this a case of someone making a grab for funds that aren't theirs?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Too few details have come out to judge yet, I just found it ironic that the department is being investigated for misuse of funds the same week their receiving a fat new federal grant, particularly when so many other departments that applied didn't get one.

Time will tell. It sounds like a pretty wide-ranging investigation.

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