Thank you Lon [Craft] for that introduction, and I'd like to thank all of you for having me here today.
As you may know, a few moments ago I had the honor of swearing in the new members of your board. I'd like to wish them all the best of luck throughout their terms.
Any chance I get to address the TMPA is a chance I'm eager to accept because it's a chance to communicate, on a direct level, with people who are making a real difference in the lives of Texans every single day.
All too often, your contributions to public safety and security can be overlooked as the general public goes about the everyday, hectic business of life.
But the moment there's trouble, you're the ones who take the call.
You're the ones who restore order, avert disaster and put those who will harm others behind bars.
The work you do saves lives and keeps our communities and families safe from harm.
But even in non-emergency situations, the work you do preserves the peace and improves the overall quality of life here in Texas, helping make the Lone Star State the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family.
Let me assure you, your service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.
At heart, Texans realize the high stakes you face every day.
They understand that on any given day, en route to any given emergency, as part of any given situation, lives will be on the line.
They understand that every shift, every traffic stop holds an element of danger.
They understand there's no such thing as "routine" to an officer of the law.
Texans understand, respect and deeply appreciate the dedication your job requires and the unwavering commitment you all have made to your state and your communities.
You are the people we depend on, the people we know we can count on in a crisis.
Every two years, when the legislature convenes here in Austin it's our responsibility to show that you can depend on us by ensuring our laws make it easier and safer for you to do your jobs.
To that end, the 82nd Legislature made some significant strides in that direction.
I signed into law HB 442, which will help improve emergency radio infrastructure, streamlining communications between various types of public safety agencies.
I know I don't need to stress the importance of that sort of communication ability to anyone in this room.
The legislature also passed HB 1379, which allows honorably retired officers to purchase and keep the side arms they carried on active duty.
Also passed was the bill we'll be signing today, SB 1065, which preserves confidentiality between first responders and the counselors that offer them guidance and solace when they endure a traumatic incident on the job.
This common-sense step will make it easier for officers to open up after a particularly stressful incident, and easier for counselors to help them through some incredibly difficult experiences that can occur on the job.
We also took important steps in our ongoing battle with human trafficking, giving prosecutors more tools to convict human trafficking cases and greatly expanding and increasing penalties and prison time for those found guilty, particularly in instances where children are involved.
Steps like these will make traffickers think twice about coming to Texas in the first place. This session, the legislature also took steps to fill a need that, sadly, has been neglected by our federal government for far too long, and lawmakers renewed the commitment to securing our border with Mexico.
The 82nd Legislature allocated $152 million, a worthy investment when you take into account the continued and growing threat of spillover violence from Northern Mexico.
Since 2005, Texas has dedicated funding to fulfill a federal responsibility, allocating about $400 million to amplify our border security operations.
Our efforts are working, too.
As just one example, the Ranger Recon program we initiated in 2009 has been a solid success over the last year alone, seizing more than $28 million worth of narcotics, more than 30 vehicles and apprehending nearly 40 fugitive smugglers, along with more than 500 people who were in our country illegally.
While our efforts have been effective, it's unfortunate they're even needed as the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to this problem and a deaf ear to our appeals.
We can't allow their detachment to be an excuse for not trying, however.
To that end, we will continue to press Washington for more resources, continuing our call for an infusion of an additional 3,000 Border Patrol agents along the Texas-Mexico line.
And until such time that those Border Patrol agents are assigned to the Texas border, I will continue to press this Administration for the immediate deployment of 1,000 Title 32 National Guard troops along the border, a request I've made for two and a half years, and one that has continually and tellingly been ignored by the federal government.
Although, President Obama did see fit to send 286 troops late last year, and we'll take all the support the federal government will give, that number was grossly inadequate for the task at hand.
Nobody knows better than those whose boots are actually on the ground how much help is needed, and we will continue to fight to secure the resources necessary to allow them to do their work safely and effectively.
So for all of the brave men and women here today who serve and protect, I'd like to say, on behalf of all Texans, thank you.
And I urge you to continue doing the great jobs you're doing and make sure your voices are heard in your communities, your counties and in the halls of state government.
I'm proud of TMPA's tireless efforts to advocate on behalf of our peace officers, and pleased with what we've accomplished this session to ensure Texas law enforcement officers have the tools and resources they need to keep Texans safe.
The work you do is vital to the health and safety of law enforcement officials everywhere, and I commend everyone here for all you've accomplished for your communities and for all Texans.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.