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Lawmakers Raise 'Red Flags' Over 117 DPS Layoffs

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Ryan Poppe
Graduating class of DPS troopers

Officials with the Department of Public Safety face criticism from lawmakers over the state agency’s decision to lay off 117 state troopers. But the layoffs were part of the 4 percent budget cut mandated by the Legislature.

The 117 troopers were part of the department’s retire/rehire program, which allowed troopers who qualify for retirement to officially retire but remain on the job. The program was created due to a manpower shortage in 2002, and it ended in 2013.

But now, according to State Rep. Poncho Nevarez, D-Eagle Pass, and the Texas DPS Officers Association, the agency doesn’t have trouble finding new recruits. In fact, the Department of Public Safety hired an additional 96 troopers to satisfy the state’s prescribed border security plan one day after the department laid off those 117 troopers.

“We need to look at why we can’t afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing with these troopers,” Nevarez said. “And the one that jumps out at me right away is the way we spent money in the last two bienniums for border security might be the answer to keeping these troopers, who’ve done nothing more than get a little older, keep them employed.”

DPS director Steve McCraw told members of the state’s Public Safety Commission that the department looked at other ways to save money, but the 4 percent budget cut made the layoffs necessary.

The House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety plans to discuss the layoffs at a Feb. 1 meeting in Tyler.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe