Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Op-ed: Don't needlessly expand local police wiretapping authority

The Houston Chronicle today published an op ed I wrote in opposition to legislation expanding authority of large Texas police departments to perform wiretapping. Grits readers have seen most of the arguments before, but for those interested, see it here. The column concluded:
This bill amounts to a solution looking for a problem. If HPD had received judicial approval for a wiretap and DPS was unable to implement it, that'd be one thing. But if it's just to give them a leg up in some bureaucratic turf war with the feds or to keep from having to involve DPS, those don't seem like very good reasons to let the big local law enforcement agencies have this expanded authority.

The reason past legislatures centralized wiretapping at DPS wasn't because locals couldn't operate the technology but because they judged that it's better to keep such authority in one place to make it easier to regulate. That logic hasn't changed, and with the volume of requests so low, there's just no pressing need for the changes sought in SB 188. The Texas House should reject the legislation.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the guts to say that some towns are "over-policed"? It has been clearly shown that cities with too many surgeons do too many unnecessary operations. The surgeons like to operate, and they operate on whatever they can.

Policemen like to police--to stop people, arrest people, lock people up. It's a kick. But when there aren't enough incidents where police are actually needed--like say violent crime, robbery, major accidents--well, then these police have to find something to do. What is the result of this? Too many arrests, too many traffic tickets, too much bothering of people who are minding their own business.

Too many police with too much time on their hands and too many easy tools like wiretapping will yield only one thing--a police state.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry 08:08. None of us have a good word to say about the police.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:08 Thanks I needed that

Michael said...

The police do a decent job based upon what they are tasked.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

In my experience, about 10% of the cops cause 80-90% of the problems. Don't paint with a broad brush. It's unhelpful, and most cops are good folks doing the job for the right reasons. The disciplinary systems are too weak when stuff does go wrong, especially in civil service cities, but don't use that to tarnish the character of most folks wearing a badge.

John C. Key MD said...

I'm sure everyone is influenced by their personal experiences. I imagine it varies by municipality too.

Anonymous said...

Anon to Anon, speak for your god damn self under your real name and if you two haven't read Grits reply yet please do so now.

Just because we've experienced a bad cop or two or three in our lives sure as hell doesn't prevent any of us from calling 911 when we need police assistance. If they expand the authority that doesn't mean every cop will go bat shit crazy wiretapping due to bordome. A few will always be bad at their jobs and we can thank the good ones for knowing the difference from right and wrong.

So buzz off with that anti cop shit, there are plenty anti sites you can jerk off to, this isn't one of them.