The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas DPS and local law enforcement agencies reveal what public safety report means for College Station.

Photo by Graphic by Ben Schoenekase
Texas Driving

The Texas Department of Public Safety released the 2017 Texas Public Safety Threat Overview in January. The report assesses the threat of terrorism, crime, natural disasters, motor vehicle crashes, public health, industrial accidents and cyber threats to Texas.

The report was created using State Intelligence Estimates that draw on information and expertise of multiple law enforcement and homeland security agencies across Texas. According to the overview the current terrorism threat to Texas is elevated due to increased numbers of recent terrorism-related arrests and thwarted plots in the United States and potential terrorist infiltration across the United States-Mexico border.

Texas congressman Beto 0’Rourke differs in opinion with DPS and State Intelligence Estimates. O’Rourke said Texans should not be as concerned about potential terrorists crossing the border as the overview suggests.

“United states-Mexico border, you know Texas has more of it than any other state, and there is a lot of anxiety about how perceived insecure the border is,” O’Rourke said. “The border — United States-Mexico, Texas-Mexico border — has never been safer. Never been more secure. Never been less risk or threat of violence or terrorism. There’s never been a terrorist organization that’s used the border or come across our border to come and get us in America.”

Texas DPS has received $1 billion in the last two years to increase border security. O’Rourke said this spending is excessive and would be better used in other areas.

“I just think you could create conditions in which you will unintentionally begin profiling people based on their perceived immigration status and that, to me, is un-Texan, un-American,” O’Rourke said. “Plenty of other uses for that billion dollars, and hopefully we come to our senses.”

According to Lieutenant Steve Brock of the College Station Police Department, citizens in College Station should not live in fear of terrorism.

“We are vigilant in our investigations and our avenues of information that we use to counter terrorism attacks and potential attacks,” Brock said. “We basically have a joint task force that has members of College Station Police Department, Bryan Police Department, and our Sheriff’s Department in tandem with the FBI. They are responsible for disseminating the appropriate information that our local law enforcement agencies need to know about that topic.”

Brazos County Crime Prevention Deputy Nathan Dennis said some of the most common threats to Brazos County residents include fraud, burglary and drinking crimes that tend to come in waves.

“A lot of crimes come in waves such as car burglaries,” Dennis said. “One of the times we see a lot of car burglaries is when school starts up again, because we have a lot of students that are here for the first time. People realize that schools back in session and students may leave things in their cars, so the suspects kind of prey on that and know that the students are pretty busy in their first week of school.”

Burglary is the most commonly reported crime at Texas A&M. In 2016, 452 burglaries and robberies were reported to the UPD. Lieutenant Bobby Richardson of UPD said the best way to prevent burglary is to secure property.

“If it’s a bike or something like that make sure you keep it locked,” Richardson said. “Lock your dorm rooms. Laptops, phones and things like that, keep them with you. Lock your car doors. If you leave items in your car, make sure they are out of sight.”

CSPD made 369 possession of marijuana arrests or charges in 2016. According to the overview Mexican cartels smuggle illegal drugs across the border. Once the drugs are in America, American gangs distribute them. Brock said gang activity exists in College Station.

“We, like any city that’s got 100,000 people or more, deal with some gang activity,” Brock said. “Our agency, Bryan, and the Sheriff’s department do a really good job of being involved when investigating those and doing what we can to knock down organized crime. I don’t think it is something we would be able to say is an ongoing problem here that puts us on high alert.”

As traffic increases in Texas motor vehicle crashes become a greater threat to Texans. Brock said CSPD strategically places traffic officers to prevent crashes.

“We have a traffic division that analyzes our accidents and they actually are out in force working traffic in the high accident areas, not just high traffic areas,” Brock said. “So, if we have major intersections that are starting to show a major increase in accidents that’s where you will see our motorcycle officers out working traffic. It is their job to make the roadway safe for everybody in College Station.”

The DPS overview combines safety concerns from across the state of Texas, but according to Dennis Brazos County is a safe place to live.

“This area is really safe,” Dennis said. “I think we do a good job here in the county as a whole when you combine Bryan, College Station, the Sheriff’s Office and the state police. I think we’ve got a good community.”

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