As a border state with a population of more than 25 million and the nation's top economy, Texas has a unique set of challenges to the safety and security of everyday citizens. Lt. Governor Dewhurst worked diligently throughout his tenure to make Texans safe in their homes, their workplaces and their communities. Ranging from an unprecedented investment in border security to tougher sentencing guidelines for those who would harm the most vulnerable, Dewhurst strengthened Texas' reputation as a law & order state.
"Jessica's Law will protect countless children from harm, but when one of these heinous crimes does occur, this will allow prosecutors to seek severe and appropriate justice.” - David Dewhurst at the Jessica’s Law signing ceremony on July 17, 2007.
David led the effort to pass one of the nation’s toughest versions of Jessica's Law which required mandatory 25-year-to-life sentences for first-time convictions for aggravated sexual assault of certain child victims, recognized nationally as a leader in child protection policies, and passed “Alicia’s Law” setting some of the nation’s toughest penalties for online sexual predators.
When he took office in 2003, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst committed to making Texans safer in their homes and in their communities. As a pro-life conservative, his regard for life extended to the most vulnerable Texans, which led to a special emphasis on laws to prevent and punish crimes against children. Concerned the federal government’s failure to secure the border had increased the presence of drug cartels and transnational gangs in Texas communities, he tirelessly drove the state’s border security build up.
“For far too long, Washington has dodged its Constitutional duty to secure our borders, passing the costs and the consequences of its inaction to states like Texas. Nevertheless, Texas will fight to secure our borders with or without help from the federal government.”
Beginning in the 2007 legislative session, Dewhurst began a push to expand the state’s border security efforts to leverage the Texas Department of Public Safety’s expertise and increased coordination with federal agencies. During the remainder of his tenure, he guided appropropriations of more than $800 million in funding for border security efforts, ranging from interoperable radios to high altitude spotter aircraft and armored gunboats on the Rio Grande River. These funding efforts culminated in the launch of Operation Strong Safety which was piloted in the fall of 2013 then undertaken full time after Dewhurst’s persistent urging.
Strong Safety was then enhanced with the addition of Texas-funded National Guard troops whose training and high-tech surveillance equipment formed a nearly continuous layer of sensor capability at the river’s edge across the Rio Grande Valley sector. Dewhurst also pushed for legislative solutions, including a 2009 law that strengthened penalties for gang-related crimes, including gangs tied to the international drug trade.
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