Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Byrne grant pays to prosecute Tom Coleman!

Ann sorts through the results of a recent ACLU of Texas open records request to the Governor's Criminal Justice Division, and sends an email with the scoop on what exactly Lubbock-area counties requested from the Byrne grant program that the Governor denied last week, plus some other fun news. She writes:

"The coolest new information is the Byrne fund application that was GRANTED in July for $57k to pay for Special Prosecutors to prosecute Tom Coleman!!! [Grits note: That's the undercover officer from the Tulia drug sting who has been indicted for perjury] The application reads:

“'Cost over the past five years associated with the 1999 Drug Bust has left the Swisher County in a poor financial position. The county has expended over $500,000 for defense attorneys and settlement cost arising from the operation. The amount of reserves that Swisher County had available have been depleted and the tax rate has increased substantially during the past three Budget cycles.'”

How ironic and fun! The same Byrne grant that paid him to engage in large scale racial profiling is being used to pay for Coleman's prosecution! There are so many bad task force cops they could probably use all the money like that!

Meanwhile, Grits earlier reported what I identified as a "rumor" that counties from the defunct South Plains task force were hoping to create three new area task forces, but that wasn't exactly right. Ann usefully went through the stack of open records and summarized the five rejected applications. Big picture: One proposed the creation of a new drug task force, while four individual counties asked for resources for their own local narcotics units to perform what were formerly task force functions.

Here's her accounting of what was in those denied requests; it's important because it tells us what the Governor's Criminal Justice Division chose not to fund:

1. Yoakum County for

  • Meth labs – prevent theft from agriculture stores
  • Improvements to law enforcement – basic drug enforcement with CIs
  • Prosecution – review cases to try to find sentence enhancements
  • Counter-terrorism related to their oil fields
  • “Drug prevention and treatment” – assessment services for pretrial defendants
  • Amber Alert – make themselves available for Amber alert situations

2. Lubbock County for:

  • Meth lab investigations
  • Basic task force enforcement with CIs
  • Counter-terrorism – their informants are going to be countering domestic terrorism (?!)
  • Gang prevention and intervention – because gang members are typically involved in drugs
  • “Drug diversions” – completely unexplained
  • Amber alert – available as requested to find missing children

3. Hockney County for:

  • “Better surveillance equipment” and training by the Public Agency Training Council (PATC) for their current staff

4. Hale County for:

  • Surveillance equipment to “develop probable cause for search warrants”
  • Surveillance will also “be helpful in preventing terrorism”
  • Amber alert – available to assist in locating missing children

5. 106th Judicial District for:

  • This one IS a multi-jurisdictional task force application for routine enforcement with CIs and traffic interdiction
  • Meth labs
  • Gang prevention and intervention
  • Homeland security
  • Amber alert system
  • Participating agencies are the following police departments: Lamesa, Seminole, O’Donnell, Seagraves and Tahoka
Ah, it's pleasant to dream, isn't it? If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Instead, as Grits reported yesterday, $1.2 million was shifted away from the High Plains region to pay for drug treatment programs in Houston, information systems in Dallas, and communications hardware for three counties around Waco.

Maybe next time, they'll get smart and ask for money for their probation departments. Thanks for slogging through that, Ann!

For more on Texas drug task forces see also: Drug task force support dwindling, Racial Profiling in Palestine, Profile of a Gypsy Cop, and Harris Commissioners: Fund drug treatment not the task force

No comments: