Tuesday, April 19, 2005

House considers whether to end drug task force system

Legislation to end Texas' drug task force system in its current form, HB 1239 by Hodge, will be heard today on the floor of the Texas House. The bill follows closely the interim recommendation of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, which found that:
“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 current approach violates practically every sound principle of police oversight and accountability applicable to narcotics interdiction.”

Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
Interim Report, December 2004
Task force officials say the bill could make it impossible to operate as they have in the past. That's fine with me. The legislation attempts to redress problems from incidents in Tulia, Hearne, and elsewhere where drug task forces engaged in racial profiling, police misconduct and set up innocent people. Grits wrote about the committee hearing here.

Another bill I've written about favorably -- HB 823 by Keel, which allows legal gun owners to carry a legal weapon when driving in a personal motor vehicle -- also is on today's House Calendar, meaning it's up for a floor vote.

UPDATE: Both bills passed this evening on 2nd reading on voice votes; both must receive one more favorable vote in the House before heading to the Senate.

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