Exclusive: Texas Governor Approves Funds for 4,300 Border Cameras

Drawbridge 1
Photos: Texas Department of Public Safety/Operation Drawbridge

Breitbart Texas learned that Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved the funds authorized by the 84th Texas Legislature to purchase and install thousands of additional cameras to monitor the Texas/Mexico border. The nearly $900,000 grant to begin the program recently received final approval by the Governor’s office.

In an order signed on October 28, Governor Abbott’s office authorized $858,000 for the purchase of new cameras and the deployment of Texas Military Forces (TMF) to install and maintain the cameras. The TMF resources will be assigned to the Texas Rangers Special Operations Group/JOIC for operational control, according to the Homeland Security Grant Division order obtained by Breitbart Texas (attached below). The mission will become part of the ongoing  program.

The work will be performed by the TMF soldiers at the direction of the Texas Rangers Border Security Operations Center. The mission will be conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Border Patrol.

It is expected that up to 4,300 cameras will be purchased with the funds authorized in this grant.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs Texas border security bills into law. (Photo: Breitbart Texas/Lana Shadwick)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs Texas border security bills into law. (Photo: Breitbart Texas/Lana Shadwick)

“Under the leadership of Governor Abbott, the legislature passed the toughest border security plan in the nation,” Abbott’s Deputy Press Secretary John Wittman told Breitbart Texas in an exclusive interview. “This plan, which is currently being implemented, will place 250 permanent DPS troopers on the ground and more assets in the air and water to help detect illegal cross-border activity. Because the federal government has refused to secure the border, Texas is stepping up to get the job done.”

Governor Abbott signed the toughest and most comprehensive border security plan of any state into law in June. The 84th Texas Legislature approved the law (HB11) and established historic levels of funding to increase the security of the Texas/Mexico border. The bill was written by State Representative Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) and was sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury).

“We are doing this because border security has turned out to be a real challenge for the people of this state, not just on the border region but across communities across the entire state of Texas,” Abbott said during the signing ceremony.

In the wake of the attacks in Paris on Friday, carried out by at least one Syrian refugee, and Mexico’s plan to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees (reported in September by Breitbart Texas managing director Brandon Darby), increasing security along the state’s southern border takes on even more significance.

On Sunday, Breitbart Texas’ Ildefonso Ortiz reported the Mexican Syrian refugee program may be in trouble after the Paris attacks. “The concern about Syrian refugees being allowed into Mexico deals with Mexico’s lack of true immigration enforcement and widespread corruption,” Ortiz wrote.

Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas Department of Public Safety

The State of Texas uses these cameras to supplement law enforcement resources along the border and to increase the State’s ability to respond to border crossings where potentially illegal activities are taking place. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website on Operation Drawbridge:

These cameras are monitored 24 hours, seven days a week by the Texas Fusion Center, the Texas Border Security Operations Center (augmented by Texas State Guard and Texas National Guard soldiers), DPS Communications facilities, as well as collaborative monitoring with U.S. Border Patrol facilities. Detection alerts are sent simultaneously to the Border Patrol, the Sheriff’s Office, the Fusion Center, and other border law enforcement partners by a sophisticated software alert system created in-house by Texas DPS Information Technology (IT) personnel to further lower operational costs. At approximately $300 per camera, they provide a high tech capability at a low tech cost.

Since August 2015, Operation Drawbridge and its partnership with the U.S. Border Patrol and the border Sheriffs have made a strategic and sustained impact on Cartel narcotic and human smuggling. As of the end of August 2015, the Drawbridge Project has been successful in detecting more than 149,957 criminal exploitations of the Texas/Mexico Border, and has directly resulted in the apprehension of more than 67,396 individuals and more than 140 tons of narcotics.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX