Border security is getting yet another boost. The Texas Department of Public Safety announced last week that it will supplement the hundreds of cameras along the Mexican border by adding more on private properties, according to a DPS press release.
DPS director Steven McCraw and Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon were joined by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples to present a $225,000 grant for "Operation Drawbridge," a collaboration between the DPS, the US Border Patrol, and border county sheriffs to target would-be border-crossers (with an emphasis on drug smugglers) by installing fully operational cameras on border properties that are monitored 24/7.
According to the press release, the program has resulted in the apprehension of around 4,000 individuals and ten tons of narcotics since January, an achievement applauded by McCraw on Thursday.
“We are grateful to Commissioner Staples for this critical funding, which will significantly bolster our ability to monitor illegal activity along areas of the Texas border” said McCraw. “Operation Drawbridge and the dedication of the men and women of the sheriff’s offices and the U.S. Border Patrol in the region are helping to make Texas more secure every day by working together and leveraging technology.”
Commissioner Staples was similarly optimistic about the program.
“Operation Drawbridge provides undeniable photographic proof that private landowners are constantly dealing with the dangers of deadly drug cartels and the impact of illegal human trafficking” said Staples.
A Powerpoint presentation by Staples entitled “Securing Our Border: Texas in the Crosshairs” on the Department of Agriculture-run website ProtectYourTexasBorder.com is replete with condemnations of Washington inaction and demands for a greater presence of Border Patrol agents along the Rio Grande. This Powerpoint could possibly be a way for Staples to burnish his Tea Party credentials before his 2014 run for lieutenant governor against incumbent David Dewhurst.
The site gained national attention and drew fire from the New York Times in February for relying heavily on emotional appeals and few statistics to make its case for the border’s status as a war-zone.
The Texas DPS website reiterated its commitment to a secure border in an undated Operation Drawbridge press release.
“Texas shares a 1,200 mile border with Mexico, and technology is absolutely essential in protecting Texas and the nation from Mexican cartels and their drug and human smuggling/trafficking operations.”