Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hump-Day Roundup

Here are several items that deserve Grits readers attention:

Michigan may axe Driver Responsibility Program
While I was away, the public comment period ended for the new Driver Responsibility Program rules at the Texas Department of Public Safety. The rules could come to the Public Safety Commission for a vote as soon as next month. Meanwhile, it's notable that the Michigan House of Representatives recently voted to eliminate their driver responsibility program entirely, despite persistent budget shortfalls, because of essentially similar complaints as those lodged against Texas' program, which even DPS chief Steve McCraw admits provides no tangible public safety benefit.

Dallas constable traffic slots on chopping block
Dallas County formally eliminated 80 positions in constable traffic divisions thanks to a massive revenue shortfall.

Anthony Graves story picking up steam
The Anthony Graves case recently covered by Pam Colloff at Texas Monthly has been picked up by other media outlets, including this column by nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald, and is also the subject of this video produced by Texas Monthly. See also this interview with Colloff about the story, which is the longest ever published in Texas Monthly.

Peerwani: Review old arson cases for bad science
At the Forensic Science Commission, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Most commissioners, including Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani, say there should be a review of other arson cases in the state to see if bad science played a role in the charges and convictions. The Dallas News declared that "The public should be exasperated with [Williamson County DA John] Bradley," who chairs the commission. The PBS show Frontline will air an hour-long show on the Todd Willingham case, around which much of the drama surrounding the FSC has centered, on October 19.

Grandpa as rookie trooper 
The Department of Public Safety has eliminated maximum age requirements to become a DPS trooper, accepting applicants into their academy who are over 50 years old.

'Gypsy Cop' problem still not fixed
The Dallas News published an excellent investigative report explaining why many smaller, peripheral law enforcement agencies like constables fail to perform adequate background checks on job applicants, perpetuating the practice of "gypsy cops" floating from one agency to another after engaging in misconduct.

Photography is not a crime, but cops may lie and say it is
Via the blog Photography Is Not A Crime, here's a video from the CATO Institute regarding members of the public photographing police while they go about their job and the cops' sometimes extreme dislike of the practice:

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