DA’s Use Of Confiscated Vehicle Spurs Discussion During Commissioners Court
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – An often-overlooked item on the Dallas County Commissioners Court agenda caused a flap at Tuesday’s meeting.
Under a “miscellaneous” item, the District Attorney’s office notified the court it wanted to use a seized 2001 Porsche Boxter during District Attorney investigations.
County Judge Maureen Dickey initially questioned it, adding that she would vote against the action even though it wasn’t up for a vote.
District Attorney Craig Watkins himself then came and hinted he knows what kinds of cars criminals drive.
“Drug dealers drive Porsches,” he said. The blunt assessment took two Democratic commissioners by surprise: Judges Clay Jenkins and Elba Garcia both were taken aback because their spouses drive Porsches.
But Watkins said he uses all kinds of seized vehicles in drug investigations.
“Every vehicle we seize,” he said, “and I’m kind of miffed at why it was even a story because we seize vehicles monthly.”
The car in question is not an especially pricey automobile, but Dickey claims any car, plane or gun a county agency gets should be sold.
“We shouldn’t drive it, we should’ve fly it, we shouldn’t shoot it, we need to put it up for auction and that money needs to go into the general fund,” she said.
First Assistant Dallas County District Attorney Heath Harris questioned the wisdom of even discussing the matter.
“When comments like these are made, now we can’t use them. And you put our officers in danger when you do that,” he told Dickey, adding, “When you make those kinds of comments, you, you, you divulge that type of information … our chief investigators are on the scene today that use these various different vehicles that we use and do our job. But now, those vehicles cannot be used.”
Jenkins believes the seized vehicles are under the sole control of the D.A.’s office and is unsure sure why they were even on the agenda.
“It’s my understanding that they apprise us of that fact but we can’t hold a vote to stop them from doing those things,” he said.
Watkins termed the discussion political and hinted his motives should not be questioned. Addressing the court, he said, “You’ve benefited from the fact that we have restored justice in Dallas County on so many levels, and you’re safer than you were before we came into office.”
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department wants to use a seized car, too, a Hummer. Sheriff Lupe Valdez, though, said it would be used as a recruiting tool.