Monday, March 14, 2016

Are Texas Rangers incompetent to confront corruption, or just disincentivized?

Does corruption flourish in Texas because of incompetent state-level law enforcement? A San Antonio Express News story documenting South Texas corruption (March 12) opened thusly:
After he lost his City Council seat four years ago, Richard Diaz outlined his concerns about local corruption in a detailed three-page complaint to the Zavala County district attorney.

“It was about the misuse of public property, and then, of course, they were (gassing) up their private vehicles from the city yard, and there were other violations of the charter,” Diaz said, referring to city officials.

“They talked to a lot of people who knew about this, and verified what I was saying, but for some reason they just dropped the investigation. They never told me anything,” he recalled.

District Attorney Roberto Serna, a Crystal City native, said he asked the Texas Rangers to investigate. In the end, however, after “a very diligent investigation, no prosecutable cases resulted,” he said.

The FBI, which later got the complaint, dug deeper and eventually hit pay dirt.
The DA said the Texas Rangers' investigation was "diligent," but it wasn't diligent enough to uncover wrongdoing. So how is it that the feds could get the job done? They found a "truckload of documents" they considered incriminating enough to seize as evidence and made numerous arrests.

Observing the slew of corruption cases in Texas, Grits has been struck by the fact that they typically are only ever prosecuted when the federal government steps in. Is this because the Texas Rangers are incompetent to the task? Clearly they blew it in Crystal City.

Reported the Express-News, "The FBI in San Antonio also has seen a sharp increase in corruption cases, rising threefold to 64 open cases, between 2012 and 2014." But corruption is illegal under state law, too, and these are local officials, for the most part, catching these cases.

Why isn't Texas law enforcement able to identify and prosecute corruption? Is it because Texas DPS's enforcement and spending priorities are focused on patrolling the border region, which ironically is the safest area in the state, instead of on officials who violate the public trust? Or might Texas fail to confront corruption even without competing priorities, simply leaving the task to the feds because it's easier, and you get to blame Obama if things go bad? It's not like state and local law enforcement were pursuing these cases before the border buildup.

It's embarrassing that the feds keep finding and prosecuting serious corruption, especially in South Texas but also elsewhere, while state and local law enforcement can't or won't get the job done. Too bad some of that misspent border security money allocated by the Lege last session wasn't designated for this purpose. Corruption is a greater threat to security than the next landscape worker or nanny who may cross the border illegally.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article. The Rangers will play politics with a case just like the average politically minded DA who is worried about getting reelected. Come to Brown County and find out for yourself. After an 18 month investigation by the FBI and Rangers related to public corruption they still haven't arrested those involved. It appears the Rangers won't take additional information in the case. At this point, I won't give a wooden nickle for a Ranger.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with above. They are good investigators. But they are over-worked more than any other member of DPS. And you have to consider that DPS rarely prosecutes a political figure. Especially a Republican.

Anonymous said...

People move to Mexico to get away from the corruption in Crystal City.

Anonymous said...

That whole region is now a DMZ.

Anonymous said...

http://www.kltv.com/story/31467865/texas-judge-accused-of-sexting-while-sitting-on-judicial-conduct-board?clienttype=generic&sf22573547=1

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, the Texas Rangers don't actually prosecute any cases. They do the investigation and then it is up to the local prosecutor to decide if there are any charges to bring.

Bill Habern said...


It may be that the only state law enforcement agency more lacking in their efforts when it comes to state corruption that the Rangers is the TDCJ OIG agency. I would put up corruption and abuse more obvious than a car in the middle of the road, but these folks can't seem to find it.

Bill Habern
Attorney
Houston, Texas

Anonymous said...

The Ranger are not well thought of internally by other DPS investigators in Narcotics and CID.
The virtually have no investigative experience when they come to the Rangers from Highway patrol. All that they've ever done is write traffic tickets

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@8:14, the article said the reason there was no state prosecution in Crystal City is because the Ranger investigation found no actionable evidence, even though the feds quite literally found a "truckload." You're right the Rangers don't prosecute people. But their investigative failures are the reason state prosecutions don't go forward.

@9:29, I've heard that a lot over the years, especially from the Narcotics guys.

Anonymous said...

Having spent most of my life as a Texas Law Enforcement Officer, I will tell you that there is no more of a worthless Law Enforcement Agency in Texas than the Texas Rangers. They strut around like they are something special. When in reality, they are nothing more than a bunch of Highway Patrolmen who have never investigated anything more than a traffic accident. They are a joke among most in Texas Law Enforcement. They show up on scenes and just walk around and they only thing that they accomplish is getting in the way. They openly talk about bending the truth and how to write reports so that he charges stick. How to leave evidence out of reports.
They expect prosecutors, judges and jurors to hang on their every word just because they are rangers.
Back in the 50s the Texas Rangers were made up of the best detectives from around the state. True and proven investigators. Then they came under the control of Texas DPS and the recruitment of the best went away. Now you have inexperienced people investigating crimes and they are in way over their head.

For me, if a Texas Ranger tells me the sky is blue, I will not believe them until I go outside and check for myself. That is just how bad the Texas Rangers have become. Oh and you want to talk about cover ups. Rangers frequently let their reputation go to their head and become law breakers their selves. Yet, you never hear about it because they are experts at covering it up. This I know for a fact because I have been on some of those scenes. DPS Troopers always show up and offer to take the case over and that is where it pretty much ends.

Just the prospective of an old 30+ year Texas Cop.

Anonymous said...

Get it right, folks. It's the Texas Department of Political Safety. Sheez...

Anonymous said...

Amen on no experience. One day they (Rangers) were writing traffic tickets and the next they are God's gift to law enforcement. As a former DPS crime lab supervisor, we had a couple of sayings related to Rangers; 1) "There are two kinds of evidence we received to analyze, one is good evidence and the other Ranger evidence". 2) "If we ever got tired of the crime lab we could always push a knitting needle through our ear, wiggle it real hard, and become a Ranger".

Anonymous said...

As an older man that lives "on the border" but not down south but NW of Del Rio, I have had the opportunity to speak with numerous Rangers over the last few years. In my opinion there are two distinct types: 1st are the old timers, these gentlemen are great men who care about what they are doing and are very capable. 2nd are the newer, younger Rangers that have been promoted from within DPS, and yes, I agree with the above comments, they either are incompetent or lack the proper training to do the job that they are paid to do unless we, the public, are mis-informed as to what their job really is.

Anonymous said...

Jefferson County is another one of those corrupt counties in Texas.

Anonymous said...

Incompetent. Was there a question?

Anonymous said...

3/15/2016 10:57:00 AM- True Dat

Can anyone forget how many time Rick Perry dropped their name "Texas Recon Rangers" patrolling on the Mexican border? Now they are all tactical dressed like Marines, carrying automatic weapons.

Anonymous said...

I have seen some Texas Rangers in action, they are used as puppets for the judicial system. They sit in on Court procedures. One Texas Ranger physically man handled an innocent man and caused injury under the order of the investigator who was working for the DA. They were saying that they had a court order to confiscate a computer (in which they destroyed client information) & material in their process.

Anonymous said...

One thing not mentioned is favoritism, selectism, or nepotism often allows troopers that are children or grandchildren of former Rangers priority in becoming a Ranger often over merit, competency or other considerations.

Anonymous said...

I know from personal experience the Ranger that covers Tyler is just as corrupt as the Smith County Sheriff's office. So it's no shock to see that sort of corruption from other Rangers.

Anonymous said...

I've met quite a few. The ones stationed in rural areas are really good people and make a lot of "big city" resources available to local agencies. Not sure why so many are located in the cities having these resources readily available. Haven't seen this arrogance described here. Quite the opposite. Mostly humble folks who prefer doing the job without fanfare and attention. Yeah, they serve a desperately needed purpose out there. Most of their work is requested by the local District Attorney. They can't help it if they are put on display by the powers that be. Ask one and you'd probably get this same reply. Can you imagine your local police chief in a city of less than 500 people in say, Brewster County, handling a multiple homicide? Pretty sure a three page offense report won't cut it, but that's what you'd get.

Dutch Avery said...

The younger, educated generations will not tollerate Texas Ranger corruption any longer. Particularly now that, instantly ,one can research weighted quantitative, qualitative methodologies on the Ranger & L/E entities instantaneously,and simultaneously. What was once an era of selective law enforcement, and optimal glory seeking, is now a quest just to keep your pay check. When I rolled up on a critical shooting of a cop in a rural area, I remember thinking why the Texas Rangers were there, at the same time common L/E officers arrived, that's when it hit me. I viewed 2 officers go for their trunks ,and I thought they we're Rangers taking out evidence kits. It was then that another cop, mentioned they were Rangers, and it was more of a make up kit, like the one my wife travels with. They were meticulously cleaning their silver belly hats, and I swear some of us saw them put on raid vests, raid jackets, and all their gear, as well as "MAN" make up, hair spray, Cologne, and anything else you can think of. These guys practically walked backwards at the TV cameras, this is why they wore the raid jackets, and all the tactical gear 1 1/2 hour after the shooting. I could only summize, why all the investigators & feds made ,so much fun of these guys. But, truly the hardest thing I ever heard, in that scenario, was when the Ranger told the young police officer to cancel the medivac chopper, because it was gonna cost, what that officer makes in 1/2 a year, and that the shot up cop wasn't going to make it with so many rounds, and no vest. I literally got in that fellas face and reaffirmed a medical chopper for one of my brother in "blue".