April 1, 2010 -- (This is no joke! Not even funny.) According to a copyrighted article in the Quorum Report, Employee Retirement System Executive Director Ann Fuelberg has told the Senate Committee on State Affairs that ERS faces a huge budget shortfall of between $400 million to $700 million in the coming biennium, due to higher-than-expected health care costs. The agency has in recent years used a contingency fund to cover budget shortfalls, but the fund is now fully depleted. ERS plans to make up the deficit through "higher cost sharing by plan participants," a nice bureaucratic term for jacking up premiums. As ERS resists hospitals' and other institutions' demands for higher fees and rates, those care providers may elect no longer to serve ERS plan participants.
March 23, 2010 -- KVUE-TV in Austin reports that Rep. Sylvester Turner, one of the coauthors of the Driver Responsibility Program legislation seven years ago, is now calling for the Legislature to repeal the program. Turner says "It doesn't work. We made a mistake." The Public Safety Commission is presently receiving public comment on proposed rules to ease the burden of drivers license surcharges on the indigent. The Commission will discuss the proposed rules at its March 31 meeting.
March 22, 2010 -- The Texas Tribune reports that elected officials in border communities believe that Governor Perry's "scary rhetoric" has overstated the danger of Mexican criminal activity spilling across the border, and are expressing concern that they were not consulted about their situation and their needs when the Governor and the DPS implemented a "spillover violence contingency plan" last week.
March 13, 2010 -- ABC News reports on the next generation of law enforcement video equipment -- the head camera. Will the head camera replace dash-mounted video?
March 12, 2010 -- A survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U. S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance finds that Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans often have a difficult time making the transition from soldiers to police officers. Associated Press writer Todd Richmond filed this report on the survey.
March 12, 2010 -- Former DPS Trooper John Moore has been appointed by Governor Perry as the new Ombudsman for the Texas Youth Commission. Austin American-Statesman report by Mike Ward is available here.
March 9, 2010 -- The Austin American-Statesman reports that Governor Perry, Lt. Governor Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Strauss have approved enhanced security measures at the Capitol which do not include the use of metal detectors.
March 9, 2010 -- The last printed edition of the Texas State Trooper newsletter is available here. TSTA will continue to publish an online edition in living color, and with greater frequency. Jack Lawler and JoAnne Smith did a really nice job on this one, it's interesting reading.
March 8, 2010 -- Senior Trooper Larry Vaughn was shot in the face last night while serving a felony warrant in Wood County. KLTV reports the story here. Trooper Vaughn is in stable condition after surgery. The suspect, Timothy Parmer, is in custody in the Wood County Jail.
March 8, 2010 -- The Southeast Texas Record reports that a former Trooper has filed a federal court lawsuit against DPS alleging harassment and retaliation for taking FMLA leave.
March 4, 2010 -- Former Public Safety Commission Chairwoman Colleen McHugh has been elected Chairwoman of the University of Texas Board of Regents. Click here for the story in the Austin American-Statesman.
March 2, 2010 -- "Supreme Court Sounds a Cautionary Note in Chicago Gun Case" from The Blog of Legal Times and the National Law Journal.
March 2, 2010 -- The Texas Tribune is reporting a disagreement between Colonel McCraw and Governor Perry and some senators over the Department's proposed security plan at the Capitol. The article is rather provocatively titled "Rick Perry versus DPS," but that seems a little sensational to me.
March 1, 2010 -- Nationwide, about 40% of police officers who are killed in the line of duty in motor vehicle crashes are not wearing seatbelts, the Houston Chronicle reports. More here on the Grits for Breakfast blog.
February 25, 2010 -- The Department has announced that it will hold an 8-week "advanced academy" for officers with a valid peace officer license. The press release is available here.
February 19, 2010 -- The Third Court of Appeals in Austin has rejected the Department of Public Safety's appeal from a jury verdict in former GPD Sergeant Thomas Williams's retaliation lawsuit against the DPS. The opinion of the Court is available here. The jury had awarded Williams approximately $620,000 plus attorneys' fees, costs and post-judgment interest. Williams alleged that he was retaliated against and ultimately transferred back to the Narcotics Service for reporting another GPD sergeant's sexual harassment of a female Trooper and for filing a complaint of discrimination with the EEOC.
February 17, 2010 -- KXAN-TV in Austin is reporting that a Trooper has been suspended and is under administrative investigation for an allegation of sexual harassment of a legislative aide at the Capitol. Another was arrested last week by Austin police and charged with driving while intoxicated. The officer has retired in lieu of disciplinary action.
February 5, 2010 -- DPS will use $16 million of federal stimulus funds for border security. Texas Tribune article "Department of Public Stimulus."
February 4, 2010 -- DPS announces an eight-week academy for certified peace officers.
January 14, 2010 -- The Lieutenant Governor has issued the list of "interim charges" for Senate committees to address before the next session of the Legislature. You can read the list here. Curiously, there's almost no mention of DPS in the entire document.
January 12, 2010 -- DPS has issued this press release concerning the 75th Anniversary Jubilee Commemorative Badges. They're very snazzy, every active and retired commissioned officer of the Department should order one. The online images don't do them justice, they're really beautiful. Kudos to Sgt. Mike Cantu for working with the vendor to develop a special badge you'll want to keep.
January 6, 2010 -- The PRT Working Group published the minutes of its January 6 meeting. This document contains important information about the PRT and the proposed Body Mass Index standards. TSTA is represented in the group by Sgt. Brandon Bess. For information on the work of the committee you can contact Brandon at email@example.com.
December 31, 2009 -- The Third Court of Appeals in Austin has issued an opinion allowing DPS to continue its controversial new drivers license rules. The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund has challenged the new rules on the basis that they prohibit some lawful U. S. residents from obtaining licenses. Brandi Grissom's story in the Texas Tribune is available here. The Court's opinion is available here. The Court of Appeals has not dismissed MALDEF's challenge, it remanded the case to the District Court for trial.
December 23, 2009 -- A committee of DPS employees continues to fine-tune its recommendations to Colonel McCraw for a departmental physical fitness policy. You can read the latest draft here. The committee will meet again on January 6, 2010 at Headquarters. TSTA is represented on the committee by Sgt. Brandon Bess. For information on the work of the committee you can contact Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org.