Who's Afraid of the Texas Highway Patrol Museum?

They telephone more than once a year. It's always a bass-voiced manly fellow with a name like "Trooper Dan Jones" or something masculine. You're almost thankful that he's so cheerful because, with that voice, he could be menacing. "Registration and license, please" comes from that very same throat. You wonder if you've met him, or, worse, does he know you?

//Of course he knows you. He has the Texas Department of Public Safety data base. It's the biggest and most-used data base in the state! It's the data base they use to select you for jury duty and,... heaven knows what else they might use it for! How much about you is in that data base? How much did Trooper Dan know even before he called? Certainly, he knows where you live...//

In his scary jocular way, he goes on to talk about how contributions to the Troopers Charity help the widows and orphans of troopers killed on the job.

//Does he have to emphasize all this violence? What is he inferring?//

Professionally, Trooper Dan soon moves to his close. "Mr Lane..."

//Oh yes, he knows me//

"Can we count on you for a donation?"

"No, I'm sorry I don't have any more time," you say, hoping that the sudden huskiness in your own voice doesn't betray your emotion. Then you replace the receiver, very gently. It will take the rest of the day to stop worrying about whether or not Trooper Dan might retaliate, or how he might retaliate, or what it might mean the next time bright blinking red lights demand that you pull your car over to the side of the road and wait helplessly to see what the State of Texas has in store. Will it be Trooper Dan himself? Will he remember you?

highway patrolman

Help Has Come

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stopped suing the federal government over this and that long enough to consider "dozens of complaints" about the Texas HIghway Patrol Museum. He sued them last December after discovering that the "charity" had actually only disbursed about 1/2 of 1% of its millions in receipts to highway patrolmen and their families. The San Antonio newspaper found that "the museum was actually a telemarketing operation that employed hundreds of workers across the state. The operation generated nearly $12 million in revenue from 2004 to 2009." It wasn't associated, in any way, with the Texas Department of Public Safety. In simple terms, it was a fraud!

The lawsuit shut them down and prohibited their executives from any similar activities in future.

Take that, Trooper Dan!

--Jim Lane