Updated: April 6, 2020 at 8:27 p.m. CDT
Published: April 6, 2020 at 7:20 p.m. CDT
By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
SMITHLAND – Texas Department of Public Safety troopers waved through the only vehicle that passed their checkpoint while the Jimp visited their SH 49 checkpoint on the Texas side of the Louisiana border in Marion County Sunday.
“We’re not sending any people back,” a trooper who declined to give his name said. “All we’re doing is if they are staying longer than 14 days, they have to quarantine. We can’t turn people away. They have a constitutional right to travel.”
This position appeared to differ from Gov. Greg Abbott’s proclamation last week.
SSG Gregg Williams with the DPS Texarkana office provided the official DPS statement on the governor’s position.
“As part of our efforts to enforce Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order (GA-12), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is increasing its presence along the Texas/Louisiana border. DPS Troopers have set up roadway screening stations to gather required forms from road travelers along the border. The area of operations will remain in Texas counties that border Louisiana. The established screening stations are on major roadways in these counties, including interstate highways and other high-volume routes. Travelers will be asked to complete the travel form required under GA-12. It’s important for those entering Texas from Louisiana to be prepared to stop,” the DPS statement read.
The troopers did not stop the two cars that drove past them Sunday, the Jimp’s and another vehicle. No screening or directions about self-quarantine were given.
Williams said the department would not discuss operational specifics.
Williams emphasized one other point.
Those who fall under the self-quarantine mandates outlined in GA-12 should remember that a violation of the Executive Order is subject to criminal penalties.
The two troopers working in Marion County Sunday said they are based in Cass County.
“We haven’t been given orders to turn anyone away,” the trooper said.”We’re not looking at driver’s license plates. It’s not a ticket writing campaign and it’s not a criminal operation.”
On March 29, Abbott’s executive order (GA-12) stated, “Every person who enters the State of Texas through roadways from Louisiana, or from any other state as may be proclaimed hereafter, shall be subject to mandatory self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into Texas or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) shall enforce this executive order along the Texas-Louisiana border. Using a form to be prescribed by DPS, each covered person shall designate a quarantine location in Texas, such as a residence or a hotel, and provide a full name, date of birth, home address, telephone number, and driver license or passport information. DPS Troopers, or other approved peace officers, will collect a completed form from a covered person and verify it against the person’s driver license or passport. Providing false information on this form is a criminal offense under Section 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code.”
“On 49 in Marion County it’s my understanding that [DPS troopers] are pulling over maybe every third car to visit with them why they are coming into Texas and if they are coming in for a long period time, they give them the instructions from the governor’s office,” Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur said Monday.
The Louisiana Department of Health reports 711 coronavirus cases in Caddo Parish with 21 deaths. The number tested in Caddo Parish stands at 12,082.
Bob can be reached by Bob@Jimplecute1848.com.
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