CONROE – On Tuesday afternoon, Montgomery County District Attorney Bret Ligon announced the purchase and presentation of two key pieces of equipment for law enforcement.
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First was the Total Station, a device used to measure accident scenes with greater speed and accuracy. Without this equipment DPS troopers are forced to close roadways for hours while investigating serious or fatal accident scenes. The device eliminates the time consuming procedure of stretching tape measures along the roadway and having to move them from point to point.
Ligon said the mapping device is commonly used by DPS on fatal or serious injury accidents, but the local DPS office never had one.
Currently, using laser and GPS technology, the points are plotted and a computer generated sketch is rendered. DPS investigators were previously forced to wait for a team from Hempstead to arrive.
“They requested assistance earlier this year and we’re more than happy to help provide the Total Station to the Department of Public Safety,” Ligon said.
Discretionary funds have also been designated for local DPS training, firearms and ammunition, he said.
The second piece of equipment was the Hawk Eye. The device was presented to the Houston Police Department.
Ligon noted that most county residents have never seen a heavier influence of HPD within the county, referring in part to their role in the highly publicized “No Refusal” weekends. HPD has provided manpower and their BATmobile for such events on numerous occasions since Ligon took office on January 1. The unique vehicle allows breath samples to be taken in the field, along with blood draws ordered by on-hand judges.
The DA explained that HPD has jurisdiction in Montgomery County partly because the surface water of Lake Conroe belongs to the City of Houston, but also because of the lesser known fact that a portion of the City of Houston lies within Montgomery County.
“(The Houston Police Department) has been very helpful in regards to DWI suppression, detection and prosecution,” Ligon said.
HPD had expressed a need for the HawkEye device, which specifically targets the HGN.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration defines the HGN as:
“Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) refers to a lateral or horizontal jerking when the eye gazes to the side. In the impaired driving context, alcohol consumption or consumption of certain other central nervous system depressants, inhalants or phencyclidine, hinders the ability of the brain to correctly control eye muscles, therefore causing the jerk or bounce associated with HGN. As the degree of impairment becomes greater, the jerking or bouncing, i.e. the nystagmus, becomes more pronounced. This is assessed in the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.”
The HawkEye captures HGN on tape, giving courts the same view the officer had when performing the test, rather than leaving the situation as the officer’s word against that of the defendant.
Ligon explained that his ties to and understanding of law enforcement go beyond his position as District Attorney and experience as a prosecutor and providing legal representation for law enforcement. Ligon grew up in a law enforcement family, and his first career was with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
“I always felt that as long as the officers had the tools that it would take to do the job that they would want to do it, that they would do it proudly, and they would do a good job,” Ligon said.
He thanked DPS and HPD for their efforts in the past and the future, as he presented the agencies with the state of the art tools.