in Houston, Texas
Number of fired Texas DPS employees a cause for joy or suspiciously low?
Monday, Jul 23, 2012, 11:56AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

The Texas Department of Public Safety has fired 37 law enforcement officers and employees since 2010 for all sorts of naughty, intemperate and illegal behavior on the job, a Houston Chronicle study found.

When it came to following the law for these three dozen and one, the department’s initials, DPS, stood for “depends.”

But before scudding off into Mark Twain’s lies, damned lies and statistics territory, Lt. Col. David Baker, the DPS deputy director for law enforcement, wants you to know he thinks 37 or, .42 percent of the 8,832 still employed by the department, isn’t too bad.

Not that he’s excusing sexual harassment, drug possession and domestic violence.

In 2011, 2,003 highway patrol officers made 2.6 million traffic stops, filed 26,909 charges of driving while intoxicated and arrested 15,653 people on the most serious charges, murder, rape and robbery, Baker says.

During that time the public filed 365 complaints against all DPS employees and against less than 1 percent of DPS troopers. Of those, 75 complaints were upheld, 43 of them against 40 highway patrol officers.

The complaint ratio, Baker told the Chronicle, made him jump up and down for joy.

Jim Harrington, of the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin, jumped up and down, too, on top of the statistics sheets. He called the disciplinary actions "shockingly low," and questioned whether the DPS was scrubbing or concealing violations.

Harrington’s suggestions seem positively shocking in light of  the department’s recent record of deploying taxpayer money to protect Gov. Rick Perry while he ran a while for president and its $63 million program to shorten our daylong outings to renew our driver’s licenses.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of Texas DPS building by flickr user d4vidbruce, used via a Creative Commons license.

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