EPT Opinion: Border cameras – Feds should take control

Texas continues to demonstrate the best way to protect our borders. Again we're employing new technology; others contend a fence is the answer.

Our latest step, after one failed project, will be installing some 400 motion-triggered cameras that send instantaneous email pictures to accounts selected by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The cameras cost $300 apiece.

The latest idea seems to be a good one, but we continue to contend border security is a federal responsibility. And the cost should not be placed on the shoulders of Texans.

This has also been the contention of Gov. Rick Perry, who says he has no alternative but to spend Texas money because the border must be secure. He has spent millions of Texas dollars. And one endeavor is generally believed to be a failure. In 2009, few chose to click on to a pilot program that sent live video feeds of border activity to anyone through the Internet. It was a $2 million dud. In fact, only 13 of 200 allotted cameras were even installed.

On Thursday, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Strass told the El Paso Times Editorial Board that border security is an obvious mandate; he echoed that it is the responsibility of the federal government.

Meanwhile, the strategy to maintain border security is caught up in Washington, D.C., politics. In general, comprehensive immigration reform is not on the table because some contend security cannot be maintained without a border fence.  Read more …

Austin Statesman: Border crime can’t be categorized as one statistic

"An in-depth analysis of the latest crime numbers reveals that the 1,254-mile Texas-Mexico border defies any single description.

'The border is so diverse, you couldn't put the whole border in one bucket,' said Rusty Fleming, a volunteer public information officer for the sheriff's department in rural, sparsely populated Hudspeth County.

The statistics used by the American-Statesman, which are the same as those provided to the FBI as part of its Uniform Crime Report, were provided by the Department of Public Safety and include data recently published on the department's website as part of its detailed 2010 crime report." Read more …


KOSA West Texas: Addressing Border Issues in Marfa Schools 10/28/11

The following is a press release from CBP.gov

Marfa, Texas – The U.S. Border Patrol’s Marfa sector, in collaboration with local and state law enforcement agencies, has kicked off ‘Operation Detour’, a public awareness campaign to prevent a trend by drug trafficking organizations that lure young adults into engaging in criminal activity. Operation Detour was conceived and designed by members of the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector.

“Drug smugglers have increased their efforts to recruit teenagers as smugglers, scouts and lookouts,” said Chief Patrol Agent John J. Smietana, Jr. “Being lured into their trap is a very real danger to our young people with severe consequences. Operation Detour is an effort to point out those dangers and to give kids an awareness of the help that is available to them.”

“We appreciate the willingness of the schools to provide this opportunity and we certainly couldn’t get the message out without the assistance of our partners from the law enforcement and criminal justice agencies,” he said.

The campaign consists of an hour-long program that includes two videos explaining how the drug trafficking organizations are organized and what the consequences are for participating in these organizations. The presentation also includes a slideshow that explains the various criminal activities associated with drug smuggling. Also included is a panel discussion with law enforcement officials explaining how their organizations enforce the law and what the potential penalties are for getting caught in narcotics trafficking.

The program, which is designed for high school students, was presented in Marfa on Monday and will be presented in Sierra Blanca and Van Horn later this week. During the week of May 11, it will be presented in Fort Davis, Valentine, Alpine and Sanderson. Students in Presidio will receive the program the following week.

Participating with Marfa Sector are the Alpine Police Department, Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations, the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Department and the area’s Juvenile Probation Departments. Also the Presidio County Sheriff’s Department, the Terrell County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Rangers.  Link to article.

KERA: Texas Adds New Cameras To Border Security

"DALLAS, TX (KERA) - The Texas Department of Public Safety is ready to ramp up deployment of motion-triggered cameras in what it hopes is another tool to monitor the state's 1,254-mile border with Mexico.

DPS Director Steve McCraw says 20 to 30 of the small mobile cameras have been tested and proven effective for more than a year in rural areas along the border.

The cameras can take series of still photographs when people walk by and then email the images to accounts that DPS selects, including law enforcement fusion centers or even the ranchers on whose land the cameras sit.

McCraw said information from the cameras had already led Border Patrol to apprehend about 150 illegal immigrants this year. McCraw says DPS hopes to deploy about 400 cameras with current funding."  Link to article.