DPS making case for border security money

The Department of Public Safety will make its case today to the state's Homeland and Security Committee about why it needs more than a billion dollars to protect our Texas border. It's already been given almost $800 million and is asking for roughly $300 million more.

The focal point of the hearing could end up being how the rest of the state is protected. 

FOX 7 spent a few months in 2015 digging into the number of crashes and tickets on state highways since the DPS moved most of its troopers to the border. And in updated numbers in a DPS internal report that FOX 7 was recently given exclusive access to, it looks like things have gotten worse.

In Texas, the border is one of the most valued assets but some have questioned if it's become even more valuable than the estimated 26 million people who live in the state.

"I can tell you that there is less coverage because they're not here - they have to cover the border and they are deployed, I don't know if it's a week or two weeks."

That's what Judy Hobbs told FOX 7 in 2015 about the number of troopers being moved to the border. She is a justice of the peace in Williamson County and one of the people tasked with certifying deaths.

Another justice of the peace in Williamson County, Bill Gravell, says, "It's pretty simple cause and effect: when the troopers are not on the road people don't obey the laws - when they're not obeying the laws people die."

Gravell made the comment in reaction to data that FOX 7 showed him from an internal report. It outlined the statewide drop in tickets and increase in crashes on Texas highways since 2014, when the state directed the DPS to increase its presence in South Texas.

Here are the numbers from the most recent internal report.

While crashes have gone down in some places over the last year, Central Texas still leads the way with almost 350 more compared to the year before that.

The June report put out by the Office of Court Administration highlights that felony DWI arrests in Texas are down by 20% but DWI crashes are up in a number of counties including by as much as 26% in Williamson County.

But traffic tickets are down. Almost a half million less have been written over the past two years. At that rate, there will be one million fewer traffic tickets written over the next two years which means the state will lose more than quarter of a billion dollar in revenue.

That's money that can only be raised by raising property taxes and cutting local programs. Programs like ones to help students stay in school and to help them get back on track if they get in trouble.

Some of the money also goes towards paying the people who help some 125,000 of those kids. Without that money they could lose their jobs in two years.

The DPS is asking for more money to protect the border. An extra $320 million to be exact. And knowing all the money could be lost locally means this could end up being one of the most valuable decisions the legislature will ultimately have to make.

FOX 7 has spoken to a few people close to the hearing who say they aren't suggesting to take the troopers off the border. What they are suggesting is that legislators find the money to support local law enforcement since they are picking up the slack.

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