State Report Highlights Public Safety Threats to Texas

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has released the 2017 Texas Public Safety Threat Overview, a state intelligence estimate that offers an assessment of the current public safety threats to Texas.

“Protecting Texans from the full scope of public safety and homeland security threats is the foremost goal of DPS, and the department works with our fellow law enforcement partners at all levels of government to prepare for the unthinkable,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “This report provides an invaluable assessment of the most significant threats facing our state and is a crucial tool in combating those threats.”

The report draws on the data and perspectives of multiple law enforcement and homeland security agencies, whose contributions were essential to developing this assessment. It also includes a description of the state’s systematic approach to detect, assess and prioritize public safety threats within seven categories, including terrorism, crime, natural disasters, motor vehicle crashes, public health, industrial accidents and cyber threats.

The report ascertains that, due to recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by domestic lone offenders and large foreign terrorist organizations like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), the current terrorism threat to Texas is elevated. The assessment also recognizes that the heightened threat is expected to persist during the next year, due in part to the relatively high number of recent terrorism-related arrests and thwarted plots, and the prevalence of ISIS’s online recruitment and incitement messaging.

Additional significant findings include:

  • Threats from violent domestic antigovernment extremists remain concerning in light of standoffs with federal law enforcement in Oregon in 2014 and Nevada in early 2016, as well as a series of ambush murders of police officers.
  • Crime threatens the public safety and liberty of all Texans in some way. DPS Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program data for 2015 shows a 4.7 percent decrease of the major crime rate in Texas from 2014. This is positive for the safety and welfare of our citizens. Conversely, violent crimes in particular increased for the second year in a row. Texas’ UCR program includes seven index crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. What the index crime data does not currently account for are other crimes typically committed by criminal organizations that impact the security of Texas communities, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, and public corruption.
  • Criminal organizations – including Mexican cartels and transnational gangs – and individual criminals engage in a wide range of illicit activities in Texas. Among the vilest crimes these organizations and other criminals engage in is the exploitation and trafficking of children and other vulnerable victims. Human trafficking is highly profitable, and is the fastest growing organized crime business in Texas.
  • All eight of the major Mexican cartels operate in Texas, and they have enlisted transnational and statewide gangs to support their drug and human smuggling and human trafficking operations on both sides of the border.
  • Gangs continue to pose a significant public safety threat to Texas, and their propensity for violence and many kinds of criminal activity is persistent. While the greatest concentrations of gang activity tend to be in the larger metropolitan areas, gang members are also present in the surrounding suburbs and in rural areas. Gang activity is especially prevalent in some of the counties adjacent to Mexico and along key smuggling corridors, since many Texas-based gangs are involved in cross-border trafficking.
  • Motor vehicle crashes killed 3,520 people in Texas in 2015. In addition, the high volume of commercial motor vehicles on Texas’ roadways is a particular concern because of the increased potential for loss of life when large-mass commercial vehicles are involved in crashes.
  • Texas faces an array of natural threats, including floods, hurricanes, wildfires, tornados, and drought, with more major disaster declarations than any other state in the nation. These disasters result in loss of life, damage to infrastructure, and billions of dollars in personal property damage and economic losses.
  • Public health threats to Texas remain a significant concern, with emerging infectious diseases and other illnesses such as influenza and enteroviruses.
  • Major industrial accidents constitute another potential threat to public safety, especially because of the large industrial base in Texas. The state’s vast size and economic importance contribute to the potential for severe consequences if any significant accidents occur.
  • Since technology has become a target, a vulnerability and a tool used by criminals and foreign governments, cyber threats continue to be a significant area of concern, and we are especially concerned about the potential consequences of a successful cyberattack on the state’s critical infrastructure.

“As terrorism has become more disaggregated, communities in Texas and across the nation are facing a heightened threat of terrorism, and the continued potential for attacks against civilians and members of law enforcement is a serious ongoing concern,” said Director McCraw. “The report identifies several other unique threats to our state – including organized crime and Mexican cartels, natural disasters and cyber attacks – for which we must be prepared. With the 2017 Texas Public Safety Threat Overview in mind, DPS will continue working with our law enforcement partners to prevent, respond to and recover from all potential threats facing our state.”

To view the complete 2017 Teaxs Pubic Safety Threat Overview, visit
http://www.dps.texas.gov/director_staff/media_and_communications/
2017/threatOverview20170115.pdf
.

 

JANUARY 2017 TSTA NEWSLETTER

Dear Members and Friends of TSTA,

Read the January 2016 issue of the Texas State Trooper by clicking here.

In this edition we want you to know that TSTA is working for you, and that you may be assured the Board of Directors wants only the best for TSTA and its’ members.

Deborah Ingersoll, TSTA’s Legislative Liaison, is working hard with ERS, the legislature and all the Schedule C groups to assure your retirement and pay are protected. Read “Pension Update”.

As usual, Judge Gist is outstanding in is article “Watch Out”.

Former TSTA Newsletter Editor Jack Lawler suffered the loss of his daughter, Nancy Lawler Minton, on December 15, 2016 (“In Memory Of….”).

Do you have your family “business” in order? Please read “Crier’s Chronicles” for important resources.

On pages 4 & 5, please read notes of thanks for all that you do.

DPS has asked TSTA to remind all of you about DPS Mutual. Please read article outlining this program on page 7.

ERS reminds you to use your new pharmacy card as of January 1st (see page 7).

Congratulations to C-2016 class! We welcome all 116 new troopers who graduated in December. See page 8 for article.

Please look over page 9 to see what your $25 per year (total dues) gets you in services from TSTA.

If you need a laugh, turn to page 11 where Kuempel’s Korner will give you a few good chuckles.

Be Safe!

Claude Hart
Executive Director
Texas State Troopers Association

ERS: Remember to use your new pharmacy card on January 1

Your pharmacy needs to see your new ID card starting January 1

If you are an employee or retiree enrolled in HealthSelectSM of Texas or Consumer Directed HealthSelect, you should have received a new ID card to use for medical appointments and at the pharmacy. Begin showing your new ID card to your medical providers and network pharmacies on January 1. If you have not received your ID card, please contact OptumRx at (866) 336-9371 (TTY: 711.) If you try to use the card sent by Caremark after December 31, the pharmacy probably will charge you incorrectly and could even deny coverage.
If you are a retiree enrolled in HealthSelect Medicare Advantage, KelseyCare Advantage or HealthSelect Secondary, you should have received a new Pharmacy Benefits ID card from UnitedHealthcare. Begin using this card on January 1. If you did not receive your new ID card, please contact UnitedHealthcare at (866) 868-0609 (TTY: 711.) Please note that you should continue to use your current medical ID card. If you try to use the card sent by SilverScript after December 31, the pharmacy probably will charge you incorrectly and could even deny coverage.
You will be able to view claims and other personal information through the plan websites beginning January 1, 2017.

* Employees and retirees who are NOT eligible for Medicare should visit HealthSelectRx.com.
* Retirees who are eligible for Medicare should visit HSMedicareRx.com.

Earlier this year, the Employees Retirement System of Texas selected UnitedHealthcare to be the administrator for HealthSelectSM Medicare Rx, the prescription drug program for the HealthSelect Medicare Advantage, HealthSelect Secondary and KelseyCare Advantage HMO plans. OptumRx, an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare, will administer the prescription drug programs for retirees not enrolled in Medicare, active employees, and their dependents enrolled in HealthSelect of Texas and Consumer Directed HealthSelect.

DPS Launches Enhanced Traffic Enforcement for Holidays

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is urging drivers to help make the holidays safer by driving sober and using extra caution. In an effort to protect travelers on our roadways, DPS Troopers, as well as local law enforcement across the state, will conduct traffic patrols throughout the holiday weekends of Dec. 23 – 26 and Dec. 31 – Jan. 1, looking for drunk drivers, speeders, seat belt violators and other dangerous drivers.

“Impaired driving or reckless behavior on the road can turn holiday celebrations into tragedies, and these DPS patrols are designed to help save lives by identifying drivers who disregard the law and endanger others,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “By always driving sober, obeying traffic laws, and slowing down or moving over a lane when vehicles are stopped on the side of the road, Texans can help make our roads safer for everyone.”

During the eight-day Christmas/New Year holiday enforcement effort last year, DPS troopers made 466 DWI arrests. DPS enforcement efforts also resulted in 9,174 speeding citations, 893 seat belt/child safety seat citations, 320 fugitive arrests and 286 felony arrests during the enforcement period.

DPS offers the following additional tips for safe travel during the holidays:

Don’t drink and drive. Designate a driver or take a cab.
Slow down – especially in bad weather, construction areas and heavy traffic.
Eliminate distractions, including the use of mobile devices.
Buckle up everyone in the vehicle – it’s the law.
Slow down or move over for police, fire, EMS and Texas Department of Transportation vehicles and tow trucks that are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated – it’s the law. Also, show the same courtesy to fellow drivers stopped along the road.
Don’t drive fatigued.
Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and check the weather forecast before your trip begins.

DECEMBER 2016 TSTA NEWSLETTER

Dear Members and Friends of TSTA,

Read the December 2016 issue of the Texas State Trooper by clicking here.

Our cover story features Jack Lawler, the retiring editor of TSTA’s newsletter. Jack, it’s been a great 25 years. We’ll miss you.

Judge Gist has a great article concerning investigative stops supporting subsequent searches. This is a need to read.

TSTA Legal Counsel Jack Crier will include monthly articles. They will be known as Crier’s Chronicles and will contain great information.

During the legislative session we will attempt to inform you of important issues that will affect you at the Capitol. Read Deborah Ingersoll’s monthly updates.

TSTA always includes the valuable health tips form the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. This month’s subject is Blood Pressure. Need to read.

Then, what your $25 membership gets you. Now that’s a great deal.

See you next month,

Claude Hart
Executive Director
Texas State Troopers Association

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2016 TSTA NEWSLETTER

Dear Members and Friends of TSTA,

Read the October-November 2016 issue of Texas State Trooper by clicking here. The front page features Rick & Don Metcalf who for years have honored the memories of fallen troopers. Also it continues on to explain what we can do to assist them and the project.

On page 2 there is good information from Judge Gist on legally appropriate stops vs. legally improper stops. Be right – read this.

Next, read about your new Board of Directors – President, Vice President and Secretary Treasurer. Three good men. TSTA is very fortunate to have this dedicated Board.

TSTA is so blessed to have the ability to assist the Spjut family whose daughter Lauren has been so ill. Story page 11.

Read “What your $25 annual dues get you” on page 15 and how to join TSTA on page 17.

Sincerely,

Claude Hart
Executive Director

DPS Offers Halloween Safety Tips for Texans

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding parents, drivers and children that Halloween can be fun without sacrificing safety. Adults and kids can avoid a variety of potential dangers by adhering to basic safety practices and using extra caution in areas where trick-or-treaters will be celebrating.

“As we head into the weekend before Halloween, we are calling on Texans to take security and safety seriously,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Drivers should be on the lookout for trick-or-treaters of all ages who might walk along our roads or suddenly cross the street. Also, if alcohol will be part of your celebration, always designate a sober driver or choose alternate transportation.”

DPS offers the following tips to keep in mind while driving during Halloween:

* Don’t drink and drive. (Designate a sober driver or take a cab.)
* Eliminate distractions, including the usage of mobile devices.
*Slow down; and further reduce speeds in bad weather, construction areas and heavy traffic.

When planning a trick-or-treat route, parents may visit the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry – which includes a mapping function – to check for offenders who may be living in their neighborhood at https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/SexOffender/PublicSite/Index.aspx.

Parents can also check the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry for offenders in their neighborhood by downloading the free DPS mobile app for use on iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets. The app provides interactive and easy-to-use maps for searching registered sex offenders by location, name, route and proximity. To see a demonstration of how to search by route using the DPS app, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnsdpxA9Dbk. Individuals can also report suspicious or criminal activity with the mobile app, at www.iwatchtx.org or by calling 1-844-643-2251.

The app is currently available for iPhone users on the Apple App Store (http://tinyurl.com/kj43lsr) and for Android users on Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microassist.texasdps&hl=en).

Texans can also stay safe by using these Halloween safety tips:

* Look both ways before crossing roadways, and always walk; don’t run.
* Cross the roadway at intersections and crosswalks.
* Travel in groups with adult supervision.
* Do not enter the cars or homes of strangers, and avoid homes without visible porch lights.
* Make sure children know their home phone number and how to call 911 or their local emergency number in case they have an emergency or become lost.
* Take all treats home for an adult to inspect before eating anything, and nevereat unwrapped candy.

Individuals should also follow these tips when selecting a costume:

* Avoid toy guns and knives – they could easily be mistaken for a real weapon.
* Wear costumes that are light in color or place reflective material on the costume, so drivers can see you.
* Avoid using masks, if possible, to allow for better visibility and peripheral vision.
* Carry a flashlight.

Orange trooper awarded Purple Heart from Texas DPS

A Texas Highway Patrol trooper in Orange received a Purple Heart Thursday from the Texas Public Safety Commission and Texas Department of Public Safety, DPS announced.

Kimberly Ousman suffered “multiple injuries” on July 23, 2014, when she was struck while conducting a crash investigation along Interstate 10 in Orange County, according to Texas DPS.

A Lake Charles man, Will Houston, then 71, was charged with failure to control speed, according to previous Enterprise reporting. Houston’s vehicle struck Ousman’s patrol car, and the force of the impact pushed Ousman’s car into the previously crashed vehicle, which then struck Ousman according to Texas DPS.

Two other DPS employees received Lifesaving Awards. Sgt. Brad Gibson, of Austin, received an award for helping revive a driver who had stopped breathing. Troopers Robert Bowden and Matthew Ferguson, of Shamrock, who assisted a man severely injured in a rollover crash, according to Texas DPS.

Texas troopers to ride some school buses in safety push

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Some Texas troopers will give up patrol cars and instead ride school buses in a child safety effort.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the plan is part of National School Bus Safety Week, which began Monday and runs through Friday.

It’s illegal in Texas to pass any school bus that is stopped and operating a visual signal — either flashing red lights or a stop sign. Troopers will be watching for drivers who violate the law, which could lead to fines of up to $1,250.

A DPS statement says troopers in parts of Texas will be riding on or following school buses to catch violators.

Texas troopers, during 2015 and so far in 2016, have issued nearly 1,100 tickets for illegally passing a stopped school bus.

Public Safety Commission, DPS Honor Employees

AUSTIN – The Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw presented one Purple Heart and three Lifesaving Awards to employees for their admirable service and courageous actions.

“Every day our commissioned personnel put their lives on the line to protect and serve the residents of this state, and their vigilance undoubtedly makes Texas a better place to live,” said Director McCraw. “On behalf of DPS and the entire state, I want to thank you for your commitment to helping others. These awards are a token of our tremendous appreciation for all that you do to safeguard our communities from a wide variety of public safety threats.”

The following awards were presented today:

Trooper Kimberly Ousman, Texas Highway Patrol in Orange, received a Purple Heart. On July 23, 2014, Ousman was conducting a crash investigation on Interstate 10 in Orange County, when a separate vehicle struck Ousman’s patrol vehicle from behind. The force of the impact pushed her patrol car into the previously crashed vehicle, which then struck Ousman, who suffered multiple injuries.

Sgt. Brad Gibson, Texas Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement in Austin, received a Lifesaving Award. While off duty on July 12, 2016, Gibson noticed a vehicle stopped in the roadway near the intersection of SH 130 and Parmer Lane in Travis County. He observed the vehicle’s passenger trying to move the driver, who was unresponsive. Gibson assisted the passenger in moving the driver away from traffic and ultimately began administering chest compressions in an attempt to revive the driver. The driver eventually began to breathe on his own and was transported to a hospital for treatment.

Trooper Robert Bowden, Texas Highway Patrol in Childress, and Trooper Matthew Ferguson, Texas Highway Patrol in Shamrock, each received a Lifesaving Award. On July 2, 2016, Bowden and Ferguson were the first units to arrive at a truck-tractor rollover crash in Childress County. When Ferguson made contact with the passenger, he observed that the man had severe lacerations to his right arm and asked Bowden to retrieve a tourniquet. Bowden then applied the tourniquet to the passenger’s arm to slow the bleeding. Ferguson later applied a second tourniquet on the passenger’s arm when the bleeding continued. EMS ultimately arrived and provided additional medical treatment.