Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia in Houston wants to spend about $7 million in federal stimulus money to lease and staff a helicopter, buy a covert surveillance van, and add machine guns to boats that patrol the Houston Ship Channel, reports the Houston Chronicle. A county cmmissioners court is scheduled to vote today on whether to submit those ideas to a U.S. Justice Department grant program that was allocated $2 billion in stimulus funding to make neighborhoods safer.
Commissioners Steve Radack and El Franco Lee said questioned the spending decisions in light of long-term staffing issues in the jail and the patrol division. The money also could be used to fix the problems that caused the jail to recently fail its state inspection for the fourth time in six years, Radack said. Conservative groups also have questioned whether it was appropriate for Congress to allocate stimulus funding to law enforcement projects.