Friday, January 14, 2005

MSM: Texas House Committee Wants to Abolish Tulia-style Task Forces

Finally, somebody picked up this amazing story: Tom Coleman's perjury trial is NOT the final chapter in the Tulia saga. The Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee recommended abolishing Texas system of Tulia-style drug task forces in its Interim report, Tim Eaton of Scripps Howard wire service reported this morning. That committee is led by Chairman Terry Keel, a Republican former sheriff from Austin. The money quote:
"Continuing to sanction task force operations as stand-alone law enforcement entities with widespread authority to operate at will across multiple jurisdictional lines should not continue," the report read. "The current approach violates practically every sound principle of police oversight and accountability applicable to narcotics interdiction."
Without gloating (too much), I should point out that Grits broke that story a month ago here, providing much more detail about the reasoning behind the committee's recommendations. I'm glad Tim's picked up on it, and maybe the rest of the state's MSM will give the story some attention now. It's amazingly timely with Tom Coleman's perjury trial in the news.

In addition to the post on the report, see other, related Grits coverage:
If you're really wonking out on the topic, or if you're a reporter looking for more background, I should mention that on behalf of ACLU of Texas I authored two public policy reports about Texas drug task forces, both available as pdf files: one in December 2002 called Too Far Off Task, and one in May 2004 entitled Flawed Enforcement. See pages 5 and 13 of those reports, respectively, for lists of other drug task force scandals in Texas before and after Tulia.

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