Monday, January 15, 2007

Senate committees disagree on border security effectiveness

Two committees in the Texas Senate have two very different views of whether Gov. Perry's Operation Linebacker initiative on the Texas-Mexico border has worked to reduce crime. I mentioned last week I was "shocked" to find the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee using discredited statistics to claim Operation Linebacker had been "effective in increasing security along the border" and endorsing "full funding" for the Governor's campaign proposal to increase spending on the program ten-fold.

Now the Senate Criminal Justice Committee has issued its own interim report (pdf, pp. 25-28) analyzing border security iniatives, and they came to a much different conclusion:
Future grants to border operations should be made through a fiscally accountable state agency. The method of distribution did not account for population size, department size, or crime rates. There was no measure for success or failure built into the program, and an alarming lack of stipulations for use of the money.
Huh? So which is it? Is Operation Linebacker "effective" and deserving of "full funding," as the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee declares? Or is there an "alarming lack of stipulations" and a need for a "fiscally accountable state agency" (read: adult oversight) for grants to border law enforcement, as the Criminal Justice Committee would have it?

Just as odd: Transportation and Homeland Security Chair John Carona along with Houston Democrat Rodney Ellis sit on both committees and signed off on both reports.

Of the two, the Criminal Justice Commitee's take on border security seems to dig deeper into the available data and I tend to agree with their recommendation more. I can only encourage readers to look at both reports and their recommendations (and, if you like, prior related Grits coverage) and draw their own conclusions.

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