Lack of police training facility highlights need for border funding

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is calling on a state senate committee to find better ways to secure the border.

He also wants to give border law enforcements $60 million.

The prospects of additional funds coming to border police departments is good news to San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez.

Today, he worked with other police officers cleaning up an abandoned city owned building which will be used next week as a S.W.A.T. training ground for several Rio Grande Valley police departments including Donna, Rio Grande City and Roma.

With the issues going on right now with border security we try to maximize training and utilize facilities, but right now we don TMt have a set facility where all the departments can train, Chief Gonzalez said.

The training is crucial for departments along the border who handle a variety of border related crimes.

The rise those crimes have produced specialized tasks forces that focus on human smuggling and drug trafficking.

The San Juan Police department has three specialized task forces, one of them being a stash house task force which investigates houses where undocumented immigrants are kept, often times in sub-standard conditions, until smugglers move them further north."We said it in 09 there is going to be a surge in crime, right now as we speak that TMs what is going on," Chief Gonzalez said.

The need for regular training is apparent but the Valley remains underfunded and undermanned.

The San Juan Police Department is the sole agency conducting specialized regional training and they have no facility to do it in.

Instead, they make due with city owned property and building like the one cleaned today.

"We are in the process of seeking some funding to build a regional training facility," he said.

State officials are taking note of the needs of border law enforcement agencies after The Texas Department of Public Safety released a report following a three week initiative conducted in the Valley where regulatory check-points were set-up to temporarily increase law enforcement presence.

The report showed a 49 percent decrease in marijuana seizures, a 74 percent decrease in felony pursuits and led to four home invasion suspects arrests.

"The Mexican cartels extort our border everyday using Texas as the nations primary trans-shipment center to smuggle drugs and humans into and throughout the united states," Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said.

Dewhurst is also requesting a review on how crimes are reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting system (UCR).

He wants to determine whether the system accurately portrays the crime being committed along the border and if changes need to made.