This bill amounts to a solution looking for a problem. If HPD had received judicial approval for a wiretap and DPS was unable to implement it, that'd be one thing. But if it's just to give them a leg up in some bureaucratic turf war with the feds or to keep from having to involve DPS, those don't seem like very good reasons to let the big local law enforcement agencies have this expanded authority.
The reason past legislatures centralized wiretapping at DPS wasn't because locals couldn't operate the technology but because they judged that it's better to keep such authority in one place to make it easier to regulate. That logic hasn't changed, and with the volume of requests so low, there's just no pressing need for the changes sought in SB 188. The Texas House should reject the legislation.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Op-ed: Don't needlessly expand local police wiretapping authority
The Houston Chronicle today published an op ed I wrote in opposition to legislation expanding authority of large Texas police departments to perform wiretapping. Grits readers have seen most of the arguments before, but for those interested, see it here. The column concluded: