By Camaron Abundes
ANDREWS-In a town with just 16 sworn police officers, sending an undercover officer out to work a drug sting is next to impossible. Andrews Police Chief Bud Jones says a state law prevents small communities from swapping officers or deputies with neighboring counties.
"If it's a drug operation, any covert drug operation it has to be blessed by DPS," he said.
Chief Jones, along with other city leaders are planning to lobby lawmakers in Austin to amend the law created under HB 1239 in 2005. The bill created another layer of oversight for multi-agency anti-drug task forces following a highly publicized sting in Tulia, TX.
"What we're going to be doing is discussing that with our legislatures and law enforcement groups to see if we can't get some momentum to reclaim the ability to do some drug task force under limited interlocal agreements," City Manager Glen Hackler, said.
The plan calls for area district attorneys to oversee the operations in order to give small towns a chance to work together to stomp out drug related problems.
"My concern is how can the legislator give us more tools to protect our communities," Chief Jones said.
Currently, the Texas Department of Public Safety must approve any interlocal agreements made between area law enforcement agencies. DPS must perform a comprehensive strategic study and determine there is a need for such an agreement and then the organization must create a plan.
"We have great cooperation with DPS, but frankly they're not a drug enforcement agency," Hackler said.
Chief Jones says he doesn't need to see a strategic study to know there is a drug problem in West Texas.