MCALLEN, RGV – The Texas Department of Public Safety approved the transfer of funds for the amount of about $2.4 million to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and the McAllen Police Department for the construction of the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center.
During the last Texas legislative session in 2015, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa sponsored and passed House Bill 11. According to the Texas Legislature website, the bill relates to the powers and duties of the Texas Department of Public Safety ( TX DPS), military and law enforcement training, and the investigation, prosecution, punishment and prevention of certain offenses; creating an offense and increasing a criminal penalty; authorizing fees.
According to a press release from the Texas Senate, House Bill 11 authorized the creation of a new multiagency crime center in the Rio Grande Valley that will be operated by local law enforcement and DPS. The Texas Transnational Intelligence Center (TTIC) will be a 24/7 repository for real-time information related to criminal activities in counties along the Texas-Mexico border.
Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said the TTIC will gather criminal activity information from about 532 law enforcement agencies along the Texas-Mexico border and counties with a checkpoint. TTIC will also house the RGV Texas Anti-Gang center (TAG). TAG is an information-sharing organization targeting gangs that already has nine agencies committed to the project. The crime center will also have a communications component where data analysts can analyze crimes in the region.
“The creation of a Texas Transnational Intelligence Center is key for the Rio Grande Valley in protecting our border,” Hinojosa said in a press release. “Through this unique collaboration, our different branches of law enforcement can work together to gather real-time criminal activity and better monitor the Texas-Mexico border to reduce crime.
Hinojosa said many times, the public is really not aware of what’s coming across the border.
“Everybody just thinks about the families that are fleeing the violence in Central America, ub the reality is there’s a lot of human trafficking,” Hinojosa said. “We have a lot of drug smuggling and a lot of criminals that come across who are not coming here to be law abiding residents–they’re coming here to commit crimes. And the majority now are not from Mexico, they’re from Central America and other parts of the world and for us, border security is real. Border security for us is a way to protect our public and our citizens.”
Also in attendance was TX DPS Director Steve McCraw. He said it’s more than just the announcement of the TTIC–it’s about state leadership at the state level and government level.
“Sex trafficking matters, human trafficking matters, drug trafficking matters, but so do extortions, kidnappings, home invasions and things that the sheriff and the legislator is obligated to and has taken oath to protect the people of Texas,” McCraw said.
State Representative for District 35, Oscar Longoria, said he thinks the influx of dollars that have flowed into South Texas have really helped the community.
“I’m sure a lot of you people that follow the press have seen a decrease in home invasion and alien smuggling and that’s a testament to what we’ve done,” Longoria said. “I think we’re going to continue to do that to make sure Texas progresses and South Texas as well.”
R.D. ‘Bobby’ Guerra, state representative for District 41 was also in attendance and said the first thing that came to his mind when Texas Legislature was prevalent about border security was to make sure that Texas Legislature coordinate efforts with local law enforcement, state law enforcement and federal law enforcement.
“This is a historic day, I believe,” Guerra said. “The public is going to see that state officials, count officials and city officials have come together to make sure that we provide the safety that many of our citizens are demanding.”
Also in attendance was McAllen mayor Jim Darling and TX-DPS’ chair of Public Safety Commissioner Cynthia Leon.
“This is about a new organization where a new communication center that is really unique to the state of Texas and we’re very very excited to have it in McAllen,” Darling said. “We really think it’s going to be a great asset to our local law enforcement and communities–not only at the state and local level, but at the federal level.”
The funds will go towards redeveloping the McAllen Police Department and turning it into the TTIC and the RGV Texas Anti-Gang (TAG) center. McAllen Chief of Police, Victor Rodriguez, said TTIC interim operations hope to start by the end of 2016. The completion and delivery of the TTIC, the RGV TAG center and communications component are set for Jan. 2018.