Governor Abbott Announces Public Safety Plan To Protect Texas Families And Communities

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced a set of policy proposals to increase public safety in Texas. The policy plan includes proposals aimed at reducing violent crime, cracking down on human trafficking and organized crime, combatting violent gangs, and ensuring law enforcement officers have the resources they need to do their jobs.

“The State of Texas is sending a message to criminals and gang members that any attempts to compromise the safety of our communities will not be tolerated,” said Governor Abbott. “My top priority as governor is keeping Texans safe, and these latest proposals will help me do just that.”

The governor made the announcement at the official opening of the Texas Anti-Gang Center in McAllen, Texas.

Governor Abbott’s plan:

  • Proposes an additional $10 million to create two additional Texas Anti-Gang Centers, while also providing additional resources to existing TAG centers.
  • Requires jail time for criminals convicted of human trafficking and sexual assault.
  • Invests an additional $10 million in rifle-resistant vests for law enforcement officers.
  • Trains and equips first responders with naloxone, an opioid antidote, for use in cases of exposure to potentially fatal synthetic opioids.

To read Governor Abbott’s full plan, click here.

Governor Abbott’s “Safeguarding, Securing, Serving” Overview

1. Cracking Down on Violent Gangs

Recommendation: Make neighborhoods safer by funding two additional Texas Anti-Gang Centers in Waco and Tyler, while providing additional resources to existing TAG centers.

Texas Anti-Gang (TAG) centers are operations involving the cooperation of federal, state, and local law enforcement to share information and crack down on violent criminal activity. There are six centers currently operational in Texas, and they have achieved significant successes in curtailing Texas gangs. Additional funding for the existing TAG centers should be provided, and additional funding should be appropriated to establish two new TAG centers.

Recommendation: To disrupt gang activity in prisons, correctional officers who engage in organized crime with incarcerated gang members should lose their pensions, and should never be permitted to serve as a correctional officer or a peace officer.

Some corrupt correctional officers have coordinated with prison gangs to commit criminal acts. Texas must impose severe penalties against correctional officers who assist with organized crime behind prison walls.

2. Disrupting Human Trafficking and Smuggling

Recommendation: Upon final conviction, the owner of a property that has been used as a stash house to facilitate human trafficking and other heinous crimes must forfeit the title to charitable organizations.

Establish the criminal offense of “Operating a Stash House.”

Perpetrators of human trafficking and other cruel offenses also rely on safe havens, including real estate misused for crime known as “stash houses.” To combat criminal activity facilitated by means of stash houses where drugs, trafficked humans, and other contraband are held, the law should be amended to require, upon final conviction of the owner, that these houses be transferred to charities such as child advocacy centers, women’s shelters, and anti-trafficking groups.

Recommendation: Require jail time for human trafficking and sexual assault, crimes which should make convicted individuals ineligible for deferred adjudication or probation.

Deferred adjudication or probation for especially heinous offenses such as sexual assault and compelling prostitution is far too lenient.

Recommendation: Improve enforcement of online sex trafficking by hiring five new investigators at the Criminal Investigations Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office (OAG) has a long track record of fighting online sex trafficking. New federal law increases the powers of states to pursue these heinous crimes on the internet. OAG needs new investigators to increase the investigation and prosecution of online sex trafficking.

3. Ensuring Peace Officer Safety

Recommendation: Provide law enforcement agencies with naloxone as an antidote to potentially deadly synthetic opioids.

Powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil are deadly even in granular amounts. Funds should be provided to establish grants to acquire naloxone as an emergency antidote to these dangerous substances when they are encountered in the field by law enforcement personnel, as well as canine units.

Recommendation: Equip the 13 Department of Public Safety crime labs with Ion Mobility Spectrometry instruments to test for synthetic opiates.

Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) devices can check for the presence of even a tiny amount of deadly high-concentration opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil. DPS crime labs should be equipped with IMS devices to ensure that these dangerous substances can be detected before they harm law enforcement officers.

Recommendation: Provide rifle-resistant body armor to law enforcement with grants through the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

Ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers show the critical need for the state to continue to help protect its frontline personnel. Funds should be appropriated to provide grants to purchase additional rifle-resistant body armor to ensure funds are available for police protection.

4. Strengthening the Rights of Texas Drivers

Recommendation: Prohibit local adoption of red light cameras, and preempt any local ordinances or policies permitting red light cameras already in force.

Red light cameras are automated devices for red light traffic enforcement. They are expensive, studies indicate that they may increase accidents where deployed, and they pose constitutional issues. Texas should ban the use of these devices by preempting local authority to utilize them.

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