Tuesday, December 12, 2017

TX DPS diverting focus to immigration enforcement, and other stories

Grits has been neglecting this channel a bit - family obligations have kept me as busy as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. But here are a few odds and ends that merit readers' attention while mine is focused elsewhere:

DPS now engaging in immigration enforcement
Texas DPS is calling the Border Patrol to the scene of traffic stops to pick up suspected illegal immigrants, reported The Intercept, which tracked what happened to the families in several of these cases. This amounts to explicitly diverting state-level law enforcement resources to fulfill a federal immigration function, reducing resources available to fight crime.

Dallas pilots non-cop-led teams on mental-health calls
Dallas is launching a pilot program to send a team led by medical personnel instead of  police officers to most mental health calls. "Under the pilot program, three people would be dispatched to each mental health call: a paramedic, an officer and a behavioral health professional."

Suspending drivers licenses for debt a policy flop
Texas is one of 43 states that suspend drivers licenses for unpaid court debts, reported the Marshall Project. Your correspondent is especially excited to see how the new policy in California rolls out, where the CA Legislature ended license-suspensions for nonpayment earlier this year. IMO Texas should move in that direction.

MSM belatedly notices bipartisan #cjreform in Texas
The Houston Chronicle has discovered that the Right on Crime campaign at the Texas Public Policy Foundation exists, but thinks they've been "quiet" until now. Happy to see RoC getting in-state attention. But they've hardly been quiet, even if the Texas MSM hasn't been paying attention.

Law-of-parties debate heating up
Debates over the "law of parties" are heating up as a result of the Jeff-Wood capital-murder case, with the prosecutor from the case calling for his sentence to be commuted, reported the Texas Tribune. The law-of-parties doctrine is ripe for revision: the concept stems from British common law, but Parliament abolished it in 1957, followed soon thereafter by all of Europe, India, and in 1990, Canada. American law is an outlier on this one.

Jury selection critiques
Houston law prof and Grits contributing writer Sandra Guerra Thompson has posted an older article on SSRN critiquing jury selection procedures in the context of Miller El v. Texas. Meanwhile, Brittany Deitch of Harvard Law has a new article out critiquing jury selection procedures arguing that "that jury selection procedures undermine the defendant-protection rationale for the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. Because the Sixth Amendment grants this right personally to the defendant and the Supreme Court has construed this right as intending to protect the defendant from governmental overreach, the prosecution should not be entitled to select the very jury that is supposed to serve as a check against its power."

'Sources of Contamination in Lineup Identifications'
In our November Reasonably Suspicious podcast, Amanda Marzullo and I discussed a capital case out of Dallas in which an eyewitness was subjected to hypnosis, after which she identified a short-haired Latino defendant as the perpetrator of a crime when she'd originally said a long-haired white man did it. Grits couldn't help but think of that case when reading this short article on "Sources of Contamination in Lineup Identifications." It was almost a textbook violation of best practices designed to prevent false identifications.

Cops' views on bodycams
What do police officers think about when they should and shouldn't be required to activate their bodycams? A new academic paper asked a bunch of them and reported the results.

Changes to Crime Victimization Survey create headaches
The feds have so radically altered the national Crime Victimization Survey that it's no longer comparable to data from the older surveys, which poses a major dilemma for researchers and criminologists who rely on this instrument. Unlike changes to the Uniform Crime Reports, though, where 70 percent of the data tables were simply eliminated by the Trump Administration, these changes have been in the works for a while and are supposed to provide better data in the long term. But in the near term, the inability to compare the results to past years surveys is a problem.


Phelps said...

This amounts to explicitly diverting state-level law enforcement resources to fulfill a federal immigration function, reducing resources available to fight crime.

Locking up felonious illegal invaders IS fighting crime -- especially when you look at the prevention effects from prosecuting this "broken windows" kind of crime in a population that is vastly more likely to commit identity theft and violent crimes.

Anonymous said...

Except now you're paying twice. If you're unsatisfied with the federal governments ability to secure our borders then call your congressman. My state police need to be enforcing state laws.

Anonymous said...

State police or officers in general can file federal charges, be it federal motor carrier or 18 USC...type violations.

Phelps said...

Right, somehow 5:25 thinks it is a problem is a local cop arrests a bank robber.

Anonymous said...

State LEOs holding undocumented aliens for federal border patrol is law enforcement. State LEOs swear an oath the enforce both state and federal laws.

For many years, immigration laws were not enforced by state LEOs due to local catch and release policies. People should expect that eventually the tables will turn and the policies will change to catch but not release.

I’m not saying you should favor or disfavor the no release policies or the immigration law. However, if someone doesn’t like the no release policy, then vote to change immigration laws - which backs up the no release policy - as opposed to merely complaining about those laws. Regardless, don’t blame LE agencies for fulfilling their oath in enforcing long-standing immigration laws.

Steven Michael Seys said...

I agree that the argument against state LEOs enforcing Federal laws is poorly thought out. If the voters expressed a desire for intelligent immigration laws, there would be a move in Congress to fix our current broken system. I expect to see some traction in Congress to fix the DACA program, making it line up with the Constitution. But one cannot expect a politician to act without public demand.

Anonymous said...

Robbing a bank breaks more than just federal laws, why would I have a problem with a local cop arresting someone for that?

My point is the federal government clearly doesn't have the resources or the will to enforce our border laws and that state police would be better used enforcing state laws, protecting state taxpayers.

I'm not opposed to strong borders, I am opposed to a policeman waiting for a federal agent when he could be intervening in a domestic dispute,or catching bank robbers, or stopping speeders.

Border enforcement is a national problem that needs a national solution.

Using local police is just a bandaid.

Anonymous said...

Despite the ongoing narrative by a minority of individuals, illegals commit many more crimes than just their status crime, those coming to the attention of a state trooper certainly committing a crime to be singled out. So those of you that desire better federal laws, by all means step up to the plate and create better laws that can use federal resources to address the problem but until that time, don't bemoan those of us that expect action taken by DPS. Call it a bandaid or a stopgap measure as you desire but some enforcement is better than none until those changes take place, if that means a few speeders get a pass or that the exceptionally rare case where a state trooper is called to address a domestic dispute is put on hold, by all means ask for the feds to increase funding for enforcement instead of expecting nothing at all be done.

Anonymous said...

BWC: I wonder how many conclusions we can derive from asking a group of small town, white male officers from Spokane and Bellingham regarding body cameras, the bigger question of just how much discretion police should be allowed in all their duties having been around a great while longer. The frequency of which the new camera program in those two towns had officers wanting to leave the cameras on or record substantially everything was surprising but as the paper pointed out, officers would be less likely to give someone a break or engage in proactive activities is worth considering too. So while I believe most literature supports the stated belief that the cameras favor officers in most cases, the unintended consequences of related policies cannot be stressed enough, the hand wringers desire to demand officers record all encounters almost certain to backfire rather than limit abuse of force cases.

It would be interesting to see how officers from larger cities such as Dallas, Chicago, NYC, and Houston answered such questions too, at very least there'd be more diversity to gauge that impact, but it was interesting reading all the same.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Re Dallas pilot program, I think the cop is along to shoot the nutter in case he’s about to kill the paramedic and behavioral health professional.