Friday, February 25, 2005

Neighborhood Association Strike Forces?

The Texas Observer has a good piece on Texas state Rep. Tony Goolsby's HB 246, allowing neighborhood associations to establish their own police agencies with full law enforcement powers:
Imagine a Texas where the affluent are so fearful that they retreat from the public commons to gated communities protected by exclusive police forces, who, weapons at the ready, are only accountable to the neighborhood association. It appears Rep. Tony Goolsby already has. His HB 246 will allow neighborhoods and apartment complexes to privately hire their own special police force, to be awarded all the same powers as the gun-slinging, handcuff-toting city and state police.
The bill is typical of the proliferation of special police forces in Texas over the last couple of decades, which Grits has discussed previously. The Observer laid out that context:
The burgeoning industry of special police in Texas includes a force for the Board of Medical Examiners and one to enforce water code. Last session, the Lege authorized a special peace force for the State Board of Dental Examiners. (You can just imagine the television series potential with that one.) The dental cops conduct investigations and then, as certified peace officers, write search warrants and make arrests, for example, of a renegade dentist operating without a license in a garage. These certified peace officers are also required to use their powers to prevent offenses from being committed at any time, in any place, whether by a dentist or some other menace to society, like say, an optometrist. Fortunately, they can be armed 24 hours a day. Special police officers not busy rounding up crooked dentists or any of the other “special” targets often seek outside employment. As certified peace officers they enjoy full-blown police power—all the time. One popular side gig is as a bouncer at a club.

The numerous special police forces scattered around the state have less accountability than state and city police departments. No single state agency oversees the special police forces nor does there exist a standard set of guidelines for them. And while Goolsby’s bill does establish limited oversight and some standards of training for his new force, public interest groups like the ACLU are not pleased. “It’s not the same as a department with a chain of command and policies,” said Scott Henson of the Texas ACLU. “Some of these smaller agencies are very underdeveloped in infrastructure and supervisory techniques.” He said the officers receive less rigorous training than state and city police departments. Henson also warned that some neighborhoods may be surprised by the potential cost of having their own police force, especially if the neighborhood association finds itself on the defendant side of a lawsuit.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee, in its interim report last December, recommended that the Legislature “cease and resist” creating special police forces and consider creating one category to include all specialized police forces in order to clarify their functions.

Fritz Reinig, chief of staff for Rep. Goolsby’s office, said he was unaware of the report.
And yes, that's Grits' author quoted in the story. (Aren't blogs supposed to be self-referential?) The article said that T.J. D’Aquino, CEO of Crime Strike, a private security company operating in Goolsby’s district, brought him the legislation. I guess Crime Strike neglected to tell the Representative about the Senate committee report calling for the OPPOSITE of his bill.

Rep. Goolsby is conservative, but not an especially unreasonable fellow; he just doesn't work on these issues in the Higher Ed or Licensing and Administrative Procedures committees. In 2003, he joint-authored a bill to get rid of the worst of the specialized police forces -- Texas' Byrne-grant-funded drug task forces. Plus the Senate Committee report (pdf) makes a strong case that special police forces are not only unaccountable, but their proliferation has"discombobulated the meaning of the title peace officer." I wonder if he would have filed this piece of junk if the folks who brought it to him had told him about it?


Gritsforbreakfast said...

The Texas Rangers were responsible for ruthless massacres that bordered on genocide, if that's what you mean by "it worked then."

You've never read Grits utter an unkind word toward the Second Amendment, gun owners, nor the right to self-protection. True, it's certainly not an issue I'm passionate about. To me, to the extent the Second Amendment IS, as DoJ now says, an individual a well as a collective right, it was designed to allow citizens to protect themselves against the GOVERNMENT, to ensure the Declaration of Independence's guarantee that revolution is a right, and to enforce other restrictions on government like the 3rd amendment against quartering troops in the home, etc. Today, though, the government ALWAYS has more guns and more troops, so unless you're willing to argue individuals have a right to own WMD, the Jeffersonian political reasoning behind the second amendment has been moot since the First World War. That's why I don't write about it much. I don't write about the Third Amendment much, either, or the 18th (Prohibition, repealed).

Finally, Scott, I don't know what you're talking about that "y'all" (I presume liberals or the ACLU?) win on the committees and bills hands down? I don't know if you noticed, man, but the GOP is in power in Texas, and nobody listened to ACLU, for that matter, when the Ds were in charge, trust me. It's exactly the opposite of "Damn the issues" -- we win precisely only on issues where we can build left-right coalitions based on core constitutional principles, like on red light cameras.

You've got quite a burr under your saddle today!

BTW, in my hometown this week in Tyler, my father watched outside his office window while that massacre went down. A fellow with a concealed carry permit came out and tried to kill the gunman, who ultimately killed three people and wounded four opening fire with an automatic weapon in the town square. The hero shot the gunman three times, but hit the kevlar vest before the automatic weapon was fatally turned on him. Police finally killed the guy in a shootout after a car chase. So it's fine to say "self defense," and yeah, that guy was brave and a hero for trying to stop the killer -- but that's little comfort to his family. Another reason why, while I don't think concealed-carry permits are a problem because only non-criminals get them, I'll never believe that everyone carrying guns is a real-world soution to crime.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

BTW, to be clear, I was articulating my own stance; I don't personally agree with ACLU's position. I do think the 2d Amendment was intended as an individual right, as previously described. ACLU's official policy says it's a collective right only guaranteed as part of a miitia.

I also don't think red light cameras are "more important" than gun rights, nor school finance, nor healthcare, etc. But one has to be able to pick and choose topics. My opinions on 2d amdt stuff are quite ordinary and don't add much to the debate. On a lot of this other, there's not many folks out there saying the stuff I am.

Plus, and here's where I don't get the level of angst over this, it's actually not difficult at all to get a concealed weapons permit in Texas -- you take a class, they do a criminal background check, and you get one. What's the big deal? Most people don't want to carry a weapon, though, because their kids or grandkids might get it, because they fear it might be taken from them, or, if they're wise, because they know it might embolden them to engage in a situation better handled by professionals. I don't share your desire that more civilians had intervened in Tyler. One dead hero is plenty for me.

To play devil's advocate, too, there are many who would argue that Tyler is an argument FOR an assault weapons ban, not against one. Unless you're saying things would have been better if multiple citizens had all opened fire in the town square with assault weapons? I could be wrong, but I don't think that would have improved things.

Finally, folks are free to hire private security -- however, the bill in question would give private security the same arrest and other powers as licensed cop with a badge. That's what I object to.

I'd add that your sentiments are common. I find most conservatives, actual conservatives, don't really hate the ACLU, they're more disappointed in it, as you are. On the other hand, a lot of the claptrap that the group gets accused of (killing Christmas) is just fodder for right wing fundraising materials, not a reflection of reality. In this case,their position is as bad as you say, and I personally disagree with it. But other groups work on that topic quite ably, and the stuff ACLU does is still very much needed. Best,

merijoe said...

Honey (Im not trying to stir up controversy or start anything),
There is a HUGE,HUGE problem in southern california (and Im sure you have it out there in Texas) of Illegal aliens because of open borders and no politician having any desire or they dont care(I dont know) to do anything about this obvious SECURITY issue.
In fact, a Mexican activist/politician yelled at Asa Hutchinson because he stated one of the border patrols was "racially profiling" because they were ordered to do some "sweeps" which they did and this resulted in them capturing a couple hundred of Illegals and sending them back-- Am I not understanding the word-"Illegal?" thought it was against the law for illegals to be in this country-does this mean they still have constitutional rights? (this would seem to me a security problem too because anyone can come in)The results- Asa stopped the sweeps.
I know you are just worried about the racial profiling but this kind of goes there too.
Dont get me wrong, Im not a bigot who hates races, I just know what this alien invasion means dollar wise and security wise to, not only southern california but even though it doesnt seem that way yet, all of the United States.
What do you think?
see website- for more detail.
sorry if I sound like a moron. No offense. Please, educate me.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

In closing, you may not know that I worked on the re-election campaign of the Texas state rep who wrote and passed Texas' concealed carry legislation, Ray Allen, R-Grand Prairie, in a knock-down fight in a swing district.

I was thinking about signing up for a concealed carry class at the end of the Lege session. Let me know if you want in - I've got a friend who's an instructor.

Gritsforbreakfast said...


I understand your concerns, but think that in the big picture there are bigger fish to fry. If the Drug War has taught us anything it's that nothing stops markets from generating supply to fulfill demand -- not borders, not armies, not police, not new laws, nothing. Well, the same is true, in my view, of labor markets. We can regulate labor flows, if they're done within a legal structure, but by declaring SO MANY immigrants "illegal," i.e., by artificially (and unsuccessfully) restricting the labor supply, our current labor policies, in my view, just ignore reality, like the room full of people who pretend not to notice that the emperor wears no clothes.

If pot were legal it would generate tax revenue, create a lot of legitimate jobs, save a lot of family farms, and in general take a big load off our police force to do other things. Similarly, so long as the U.S. job market demands and absorbs so-defined "illegals," just like with the demand for drugs, it's a big waste of time to pretend you can stop supply. The bad consequences are mostly from the prohibition, and from the failure of legal structures to accomodate the obvious supply and demand realities. Better, don't you think, to enact policies in conjunction with some sort of amnesty that deal with all these unintended-but-now-well-known-consequences from the emperor walking around naked all these years?

One more thing, then my daughter needs a ride to go spend some of my money. The biggest set of public problems from "illegal" immigration stems from provision of healthcare services to this population -- that's a different rant for a different blog, but in my view that can only be resolved by comprehensive national health reform that isn't really an immigrant-specific matter, though this is one of the pressures arguing for such move.

Thanks for stopping by. :-)