One race, one ranger
Mon September 14, 2009 1:07 pm

Is nothing sacred? Playing politics with the Texas Rangers ought to be off limits. And if the governor is going to play politics with them, shouldn't the governor have to say how many Rangers he is deploying? Is it two, or twenty?

The El Paso Times published a story with skeptical comments from El Paso law enforcement officials about the deployment of the Rangers. Here are the first four paragraphs:

EL PASO -- The day after Gov. Rick Perry announced plans to deploy Texas Ranger teams to the border, local law enforcement officials said they were skeptical about whether the initiative would do any good.

A handful of recent organized-crime cases suggest to some that Perry's Ranger plan comes as cartel violence increasingly spills over into the United States, but law enforcement officials insist that border crime hasn't really escalated on the U.S. side.

"There's always going to be incidents, but to say we're starting to see an increase of these types of cases, we have not," said El Paso police spokesman Javier Sambrano. "Unfortunately, we have always had crimes related to that, but they are very rare."

On Thursday, Perry announced the deployment of "Ranger recon" teams, which, along with National Guard soldiers, are being sent to what the governor calls high-crime areas along the border that do not have adequate federal resources.

* * * *

It is unlikely that the Rangers will have an impact. Perry's previous effort was to deploy surveillance cameras on the border, financed by a $2 million grant to the Border Sheriff's Coalition.

The benchmarks for the surveillance program appeared in another El Paso Times story:

* The sheriffs coalition was to install 200 cameras, but only 17 were up and running. That's about one camera for every 70 miles of the 1,200-mile Texas-Mexico border.

* The cameras were expected to generate 1,200 arrests. The sheriffs coalition reported 11.

* Internet border watchers' reports led to the referral of about 300 undocumented immigrants to U.S. Border Patrol officials. That was about 6 percent of the 4,500 referrals the program was expected to generate.

* A spokesman for the Border Sheriff's Coalition explained the gap between the objectives and the results in this response: "Original goals were not realistic. Problems encountered was an element of the press who did everything within their power to negate the problem...." (He meant "program.")

I am probably going to say this ten thousand more times between now and March 2, but Perry is an absolute genius when it comes to campaigning, and not one smidgen of that ability translates into leading the state.

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