Thursday, October 15, 2009

NPR: Does Texas have too many cops?

NPR interviewed state Rep. Joe Driver and union lobbyist Tom Gaylor from the Texas Municipal Police Association for a story asking if Texas has "too many" police officers, noting that even podiatrists at one point wanted their own licensed cops. Here's a notable excerpt that includes their comments:
"Why did the foot doctors need a police agency?" asks Joe Driver, the state representative who was chairman of the committee that denied the Texas board of foot doctors its police force.

The podiatry board has withdrawn its request for its own cops, as state and federal authorities have beefed up investigations of health care, or foot care, fraud.

The proliferation of boutique police agencies has raised the concern of the Texas Municipal Police Association. Their lobbyist, Tom Gaylor, worries that specialized police forces aren't ready for prime time.

"What kind of resources does that agency have?" Gaylor asks. "Where are they going to take an arrested person? What type of backup availability is there? One of the biggest concerns we have is what type of communication do they have between that agency and other agencies nearby?"

And what are their use-of-force guidelines?

On Aug. 16, three peace officers with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission — charged with enforcing the state's alcohol laws — approached a suspect who was being pursued by Austin police. The agents claim the suspect tried to run them over. They shot him — and he later died. The incident is being investigated by the Texas Rangers.

Gaylor says with more and more peace officers out there, he doesn't want the public to get confused. The Police Association will be working with the Legislature in the next session to define a peace officer.

"We want to be [sure] a cop is a cop is a cop," Gaylor says. "And if you see a cop, you understand what you're getting."

Meanwhile, the fastest-growing category of new police forces is public school districts. In Texas, 163 school districts have their own police departments. More than one-quarter of them have just one officer.
At last count, Texas has 2,615 police agencies of various stripes around the state, which NPR reports employ "more than 73,000 sworn peace officers — roughly one for every 330 people."

How many is too many? At some point, there's a cost tradeoff. If they were all paid as well as Austin police officers, it would bankrupt the state. Or agencies can try to hire officers on the cheap and end up with crappy gypsy cops like Tom Coleman or Michael Meissner. That's a particular concern, one would think, in the current era, when two wars and a beefed up homeland security apparatus have soaked up much of the labor supply that normally might seek police employment.

RELATED: Do COPS hiring grants make sense in a lousy economy?


Don Dickson said...

Meanwhile, we've got one of the smallest (per capita) state police departments in the nation. And we keep giving DPS additional responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't DPS absorb the other state law enforcement agencies? I hear it works well in Alaska!

Besides that would be cheaper for the citizens of Texas....

Mike H said...

You really should look at the motivations of the lobby. This is just the latest round of some municipal police interests to "bring home the bacon" for their association members.

Active Texas Peace Officers are (by virtue of the Private Security Act) exempt from Security Guard licensing restrictions. This means a peace officer can work as a security guard for someone while they are off duty, and that supplemental income is a HUGE part of many peace officer's income.

The Muni cop lobby pushes for changes in the laws that would "de-certify" many special jurisdiction peace officers because this would effect the off-duty job market. More jobs and better pay for those who remained peace officers.

Meanwhile the agencies and organizations (and the millios of Texas they serve) that use peace officers (like mine, I work for a college police department) would lose the benifits of having police rather than security, AND those agencies would lose officers to municipal agencies because that would be the only source of off-duty work.

Texas' diffused law enforcement works, special jurisdiction agencies like mine pick people who are suited to the environment. Other than the Katy ISD and TABC messes, when was the last time you heard of Campus cops or park rangers or airport cops in trouble on the news. But one only needs to turn on the TV to hear about some muni cop in trouble.

That's because special jurisdiction agencies don't need to pick hard cases who can survive on the streets.... you really want to get rid of us? Think about it lol.

Don Dickson said...

Here's a perfect example of the kind of thing I'm talking about.

We've got 15 state police officers per 100,000 residents....and now they're going to be riding school buses? GMAFB!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Michael Meissner:

Has anyone else been following the news of his arrest for child sexual abuse/pornography?

Some really weird stuff is going on in small town Texas.

Meisner was arrested on or about the 17th of September and the on the 25th KXXV in Waco reported he had been released but…

“But when I spoke with the Combine Police Chief, the department heading up the investigation, he painted a different picture.”

“He said the former police officer was released from the Dallas county jail and transferred to the Tarrant county jail where he faced additional charges. When Meissner arrived, something wasn't right in the paper work, so he was released. This doesn't mean the charges are dropped against him.”


“Combine Police Chief Steve Allen says they'll arrest meissner again, if they can find him.”

"He's got family that's home and he's from this area. But he could very well possibly run, that's for sure...So basically we have to go reissue a warrant and go get him again."

But on the same day the Temple Daily Telegram reported…

“Felony charges against a former Little River-Academy police officer have been dropped, according to Jamille Bradfield, public information officer for Dallas County District Attorney's office.”

And then there’s the whole saga of Joey G. Dauben the web publisher of the Ellis County Observer
who somehow got sucked into some kinda feud between Meissner and some other gypsy cop named John Hoskins (who works for the Combine force) and got his ownself arrested.

And even though Meissner was arrested in Dallas I cant find any news reports from any major metroplex outlets.

W T F is going on out there in East Jesus Texas??

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to mention, that bozo Barry Cooper of
was some how in on the "sting" operation that led to the arrest of Meissner.

Weirder and weirder.

Anonymous said...

“We've got 15 state police officers per 100,000 residents....and now they're going to be riding school buses? GMAFB!”

Why do you seem to promote an insubordinate atmosphere when it comes to troopers following orders that are not immoral, unethical, or illegal.

Is riding a school bus somewhat demeaning to a trooper rather than being perceived as part of the DPS proactive safety program? After all, the DPS motto is courtesy, service and protection.

Why not look at this in a positive light and see this as an opportunity for troopers to interact with school children in a positive light while at the same time promoting National School Bus Safety Week.

Course if you have never worn the uniform and taken your lunch breaks at a local school or interacted with school aged children, I would not expect you to be able to understand.

Anonymous said...

The common denominator between all of these psuedo-agencies and the regular police agencies is the off-duty jobs or "moonlighting". If the exception to the Private Security Act for peace officers were removed there would be an almost instantaneous evaporation of the psuedo-agencies, not to mention the gypsy cop syndrome. The private security industry cannot compete with police officers selling their professional expertise and authority on a private basis. DPS is phasing out their ability to work off-duty jobs. All police agencies should follow suit. They should have to follow the same path and requirements as any security company. An officer with any pseudo-agency will tell you they don't make a desireable wage and their sole purpose for wearing a badge is to work the off-duty jobs. No accountability, no taxes and the full authority of arrest powers. Who wouldn't?

Mike H said...

The comment by anonymous about moonlighting is pure non-sense.

I don't see how you can blame the "gypsy cop" syndrome on special jurisdiction agencies, only about 7% of LE agencies in Texas are special jurisdiction.

Gypsy cops tend to flock to one-horse towns, not special jurisdiction.

That poster needs to get his fact straight. If the Private Security act was changed, it would be the small towns that would suffer, people would flock to campus police, hospital police and like agencies BECAUSE THEY ALREADY PAY BETTER. Only the big cities and richer suburbs tend to pay better than most special jurisdiction agencies. More than half of the officers in my Campus Police Department came from small towns where the pay was way worse.

Also many special Jurisdiction agencies don't (as a matter of policy) allow off duty work.

Don Dickson said...

Anon, I understand what you're saying, and I can't deny that there's some validity to your argument. I just don't think riding school buses is a job for the state police. We don't have nearly enough Troopers to do all the things we expect Troopers to do. See my letter to the Sunset Commission written the day before the Governor's Mansion burned down. It's on their web site.

Don Dickson said...

BTW, who said anything about promoting insubordination?

Anonymous said...


State Troopers could do the school bus thing in rural jurisdictions...

After all DPS is the defacto traffic enforcement in rural communities...

Especially where a local sheriff lives by the motto... "Every ticket is a lost vote..."

I think that could be a good use for state police....

Anonymous said...

"BTW, who said anything about promoting insubordination?"

Troopers are watching everything you do and say and are following your lead and example.

You sort of set the example for TSTA when you attempt to undermine a safety program by your attitude of "GMAFB.

"We don't have nearly enough Troopers to do all the things we expect Troopers to do."

Who does? Positive people just improvise, adapt and overcome. hort handed. For once it would be pleasant to hear someone say I will do the best job I can instead of making the same old excuse of being shorthanded.

BTW, I don't know that a trooper gets paid any less for riding a school bus than writing a ticket. Just go and do what your told to do instead of being a malingering, complaining malcontent.