Monday, February 12, 2007

Operation Wrangler already on hiatus?

That's what this El Paso Times article reported ("Operation Wrangler put on hiatus after first week," Feb. 12) The one week surge, said the Times, cost $4 million. Of course, since you can't buy the kind of publicity it received, and it was taxpayers' money, anyway, I'm sure the Governor's office considers it a rousing success.

"In El Paso," reported the Times' Louie Gilot, police Chief Richard Wiles said he understands that there will be a one-week surge every quarter, putting the next one sometime after March."

Now that we know what a one week surge costs, we can calculate what Perry's proposal would mean in practice. At $4 million per week, Perry's $100 million proposal for Wrangler would put extra officers on the street for 25 out of the 104 weeks in the next biennium. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst's proposal to spend $150 million on this strategy would add another 12.5 weeks to the tally. Does anybody think that's a worthwhile use of resources? What good would it do if, at maximum conceivable effectiveness, the "surge" still leaves the border unguarded 2/3 to 3/4 of the time?
Asked what the governor expected to accomplish in a week, [Perry spokesman Robert] Black said, The overall goal is to keep the bad guys off balance, confused and reduce crime. They don t know where we re going to be and for how long. From the intelligence we re getting on the other side of the border, the confusion is prevalent.
I'm sorry, but given the massive level of corruption Texas has witnessed among border police, including at the highest level of the FBI, drug task force supervisors and county sheriff's departments, it's pure folly to think traffickers won't know exactly when these surges are occurring, or else their advance scouts and allies in the community will tell them soon enough.

This is a polticized waste of money - the Lege should scrap proposals for increased "Wrangler" funding and spend money instead on rooting out and prosecuting police corruption on the border, especially among Texas drug enforcement officers, particularly those involved in long-term undercover work.

It'd be fine with me if Operation Wrangler stays on "hiatus."

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