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Bait Cars Okayed by Dallas City Council, Dallas Police Chief Gets $3 Million to Trap Thieves: Who’s Creating the Crime Here? Aren’t Bait Cars Entrapment And Illegal Under Texas Penal Code?

Dallas Police Chief David Brown went before the Dallas City Council last week and got the City Council’s okay to spend lots of money to buy things for the Dallas Police Department: items Chief Brown labels necessities in crime fighting but what many are concerned amount to Big Brother activities that will result in illegal entrapment under state and federal law.

Here’s what is happening in Dallas: the Dallas Police Department is going to spend $3,000,000.00 (that’s big money, right?) to buy lots of stuff like hidden cameras, global positioning system (GPS) trackers, license plate readers, and even cars which will be used as bait to entice individuals to steal the tempting toys like laptops (also purchased in the budget) from inside these vehicles.  You may have heard about this new police tactic or seen it on television.

It’s commonly referred to as using “bait cars” to fight crime.  Bait Cars.  Think about it.

Here’s the entrapment statute as it appears in the Texas Penal Code:

Sec. 8.06. ENTRAPMENT. (a) It is a defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the conduct charged because he was induced to do so by a law enforcement agent using persuasion or other means likely to cause persons to commit the offense. Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not constitute entrapment.

(b) In this section “law enforcement agent” includes personnel of the state and local law enforcement agencies as well as of the United States and any person acting in accordance with instructions from such agents.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

Dallas Police Chief Brown Plans To Send Bait Cars Into Southern Dallas Communities and Targeted Areas

You can almost feel the glee as the Dallas Police implement their Big Plan, spending the $3 million to target not just any part of Dallas, but specific areas:  27 locations that the police consider to be high crime areas as well as 8 specific parts of south Dallas (which have been flagged by the City of Dallas for economic redevelopment campaigns).

Right now, it’s reported that the police will be placing 16 bait cars around these specific geographic locations, filled with goodies, and monitored by cameras which will videotape those trying to grab the goodies, i.e., future car thieves.

Let’s read part of that Texas Penal Code statute again:

It is a defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the conduct charged because he was induced to do so by a law enforcement agent using persuasion or other means likely to cause persons to commit the offense.

Dallas Police Chief Wants to Do Even More Baiting

You’d think that the millions of dollars being spent here would be a big deal – but it’s not enough for the Dallas Police Chief.  He wants even more money because he wants to bait traps not just in his current targeted areas (which number around 10) but throughout the city, in around 35 different targeted locations.

And he’s looking around for private money to help him buy more technology, more temptations, and more cars from private donations.

Now, all this is being done under the big banner of making Dallas Safer. However, if you’ve got the police power being used to set up crimes just so they can go in and bust folk, then how safe are you really?

Consider the following from the United States Supreme Court in Sherman v. United States, 356 US 369, 380 (1958)(highlighting added):

The courts refuse to convict an entrapped defendant, not because his conduct falls outside the proscription of the statute, but because, even if his guilt be admitted, the methods employed on behalf of the Government to bring about conviction cannot be countenanced.

As Mr. Justice Holmes said in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U. S. 438, 470 (dissenting), in another connection, “It is desirable that criminals should be detected, and to that end that all available evidence should be used. It also is desirable that the Government should not itself foster and pay for other crimes, when they are the means by which the evidence is to be obtained. . . . [F]or my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the Government should play an ignoble part.”

Insofar as they are used as instrumentalities in the administration of criminal justice, the federal courts have an obligation to set their face against enforcement of the law by lawless means or means that violate rationally vindicated standards of justice, and to refuse to sustain such methods by effectuating them. They do this in the exercise of a recognized jurisdiction to formulate and apply “proper standards for the enforcement of the federal criminal law in the federal courts,” McNabb v. United States, 318 U. S. 332, 341, an obligation that goes beyond the conviction of the particular defendant before the court.

Public confidence in the fair and honorable administration of justice, upon which ultimately depends the rule of law, is the transcending value at stake.

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