Perry and DPS director building their own military/state foreign ministry

Republicans decided for some reason or the other that Rick Perry was a little too “out there” to consider as a presidential candidate. Perry, as many Texans feared, came home and decided to continue running his state like some kind of personal banana republic though minus the bananas. Who knows. Ol’ Good Hair might be thinking of a 2014 run or maybe even vice president for Mitt Santorum or whomever comes out of the convention.

Meanwhile, boys, we got us a nation, uh, state to run. And run is what Perry continues to do. Run it right into the old Balcones Fault.

One area in which Perry’s muscle-flexing as a would-be king is on the Texas-Mexico border. And the instrument in which he is using to show the world he’s one tuff mo-fo is the Texas Department of Public Safety. That, my friends, is a damn shame.

From way back to the days when Col. Homer Garrison, an ol’ Lufkin, Texas, boy who started out as a motorman (on highway patrol motorcycles), still ran the DPS, the agency was my ideal as a law enforcement agency. We called them “highway patrol” because that’s mostly what they were and still are seen doing in Texas. I knew the highway patrolmen since I was about as tall as a grasshopper’s knee. For the most part, they were fair, they were fearless, they might give you a ticket if you deserved it. Or they might not if they figured just stopping you and giving you a friendly warning was enough. I am 56 years old and I’ve had three tickets in my life — two by highway patrolmen.

I knew and worked with troopers all through my careers, first as a firefighter, and second as a reporter. They weren’t afraid to get in and get their hands dirty whether it meant helping tear metal apart to free a trapped victim or to help us with the inglorious task of having to remove a body.

All of this back story is that it shows my admiration for the Texas DPS troopers. I knew and received information from troopers — usually straight-forward and without hesitation — at the scene of more wrecks than I can count when I worked as a reporter. They were the most cooperative law enforcement officers I dealt with while working in the news media. Those troopers whom I worked with regularly would hand me the license or identification of a deceased victim, knowing I wouldn’t publish a name until family notification was made. That’s just how it worked.

Because of my admiration and respect for Texas DPS personnel is why it pains me to see Rick Perry using the DPS as a political pawn. Oh, sure, I imagine the Texas governors always used the DPS to their advantage to some point. But the agency usually had strong leaders who were able to keep the department clear of use as a full-bore political wing of the governor’s office. That seems to be changing somewhat.

The agent of change was Steve McCraw. McCraw got his start with the DPS before joining the FBI, where he became an assistant director. Perry named McCraw state homeland security director before being picked as DPS director. Under his command, the DPS has become even more of a paramilitary organization than such an agency would normally be particularly with respect to border security. Even more than a paramilitary commander, McCraw has taken on some of the responsibilities of the U.S. Secretary of State such as by issuing his own tourist warnings for Mexico.

Perry and his war/foreign minister McCraw have also militarized the border with much of their moves surprising and infuriating local law enforcement. In tune with right-wing politicians and their PR hacks/pundits, the Texas border has become a front in the political propaganda war between the GOP-backers who say Texas border cities are unsafe as well as those in Mexico. While there are reports of gunfire spilling over — gunfire might travel from a quarter-mile to five miles depending on the weapon and the circumstances — many U.S. border LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) argue crime is down.

Yet the DPS has added more manpower with Ranger task forces as well as helicopters and gunboats, for God’s sake! A state has no business patrolling international waters. They are not trained for the implications of what might transpire into an international incident. And if anyone should be patrolling Texas rivers, it should be the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s game wardens instead of marine “highway patrolmen.”

What has come to light recently is that much of the strategy of the Texas “border war” being marshaled by Good Hair and his gang has been outsourced to a retired four-star Army general as a result of a no-bid contract. While all of the work being performed by retired Gen. John Abrams may be stellar, such moves should not put Texas in the realm of a nation status.

In short: We don’t need no stinkin’ state highway patrol leader telling us where we should and should not go in a foreign country.  We don’t need an armed, international Texas Navy. We don’t need our security outsourced for millions of dollars to a retired general from another state. We need our Texas Department of Public Safety officers including its Texas Rangers to return back to the jobs they do so well and probably better than any other state police in the country.

The nation needs a secure border, but the state of Texas also need safe and secure highways. It seems like protocols are already in place for both local and federal governments to operate. That shouldn’t be so difficult should it?