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SB 3 creates the Reserve Officer Corps and assigns them as official peace officers. The Reserve Officer Corps would be retired or otherwise previously commissioned officers of the DPS. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) can also hire officers with previous law enforcement experience and may credit up to four years of experience as a peace officer in Texas for the purpose of calculating the officer’s salary. All new officers are subject to a one-year probationary period.
This bill allows a judge to order an interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications if the prosecutor shows probable cause that the interception will provide evidence of the commission of either aggravated promotion of prostitution or compelling prostitution.
In order to prevent human trafficking, unlawful transfer of firearms, and bulk currency into Mexico, the Department of Public Safety will investigate the feasibility of assisting federal authorities in setting up International Border Checkpoints. These checkpoints are designed only to stop traffic leaving Texas and entering into Mexico.
This bill expands on the Department of Public Safety’s technology policy, outlining that a periodical review should be done to evaluate whether the security system should be upgraded to better monitor and investigate criminal activity. The policy also states that the department shall make any necessary improvements to their information technology system.
This bill establishes crime statistics reporting requirements for each local law enforcement agency. The bill creates the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center (“center”) as a central repository of information relating to criminal activity along the Texas-Mexico border. The information at the center will be made available to every law enforcement agency within Texas, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and the Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Texas Anti-Gang Grant Program is re-enacted.
The offense of smuggling is further clarified and an additional amendment is added of a first degree felony charge for an offense that leads the smuggled individual to become a victim of sexual assault, serious injury, or death. This bill removes the affirmative defense from prosecution, of an individual smuggling a family member within the second degree of consanguinity, if the smuggled individual has suffered from serious injury, sexual assault, and/or death.
A new felony offense is created called the “continuous smuggling of persons”. This offense is a felony of the second degree. However, it becomes a felony of the first degree, if it is a child under 18 years of age or the smuggled individual has suffered serious injury or death. This bill also adds this new offense to contraband assets able to be seized.
Also, different from its House companion HB 11, this bill amends Section 9, Subchapter D, Chapter 437 of the Government Code by requiring the Texas Facilities Commission to construct a multiuse training facility to be used by the Texas Military Department, Texas military forces, DPS, as well as county and municipal law enforcement agencies for training purposes. This accounts for the higher fiscal note on this bill versus its House companion.
This bill replaced certain references to outdated statutes with current statutes.
We supported the House companion to this bill (HB 11) on the basis that it is the proper role of government to secure the border. The House version proposed to do so at a substantially lower price tag than SB 3 which comes with a fiscal note to the tune of nearly $168 million over the next biennium.
We continue to support the border security measures that this bill has in common with the House version. However, we have reservations as to the necessity and cost of the multiuse facility that this bill would require to be built and which the House bill did not include.
Due to the conflict between our support for most provisions of the bill on the one hand but our concern about the substantial cost and dubious necessity of the multiuse facility that SB 3 proposes, we are neutral on this legislation.