Travis County lifts burn ban

From the Travis County fire marshal’s office:

The Travis County Judge and Travis County Fire Marshal are lifting the burn ban that was originally set on Tuesday. Conditions have improved and rain is forecast for this weekend, which will lower the potential risk of wildfire. We encourage you to take this time to mitigate dead vegetation in and around your property to prepare for future wildfire risk and provide adequate defensible space.patch-travis_county_emergency_services

Before conducting an outdoor burn please view Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s guidelines for outdoor burning (https://www.tceq.texas.gov/publications/rg/rg-049.html) and notify your local fire department.

If you are going to burn this weekend please make sure to:

  • Begin burning no earlier than one hour after sunrise
  • Cease burning the same day no later than one hour before sunset
  • Monitor wind speeds to ensure that smoke will dissipate and embers do not become a hazard.

Our office will revisit the Burn Ban at Commissioner’s Court next Tuesday. If you have any questions regarding the status of the Burn Ban please check our website for more information at https://www.traviscountytx.gov/fire-marshal.

‘Cross Check’ immigration operations conducted half a dozen times in recent years

us_immigration_and_customs_enforcement_swat

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, confirmed Friday afternoon that federal immigration officials are conducting a specialized operation in the Austin area and beyond to capture unauthorized immigrants with criminal records.

Federal immigration officials told Castro that the program is called “Operation Cross Check,” Castro said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have conducted operations with the same name half a dozen times across the nation in recent years.

For example, a 2015 ICE operation dubbed “Cross Check” led to the arrests of 2,059 unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. who had been convicted of crimes in the past, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The operation took place from March 1-5, 2015 and targeted people who had been convicted of crimes.

Those arrested during that operation included a Polish citizen in East Hartford, Conn., who was convicted for reckless driving and twice for drug possession and a Mexican citizen arrested in Arvada, Colo., who was a documented member of the Sureños criminal street gang and was convicted in 2014 of possession of a weapon, Department of Homeland Security information shows.

The first nationwide “Cross Check” operation occurred at the end of May 2011 and resulted in 2,442 arrests, the Department of Homeland Security reported. The last Cross Check operation in August 2013 resulted in the arrest of 1,660 people.

“All targets of this operation fell within the top two priorities established in Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s Nov. 20 (2014) memorandum entitled ‘Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants,'” the Department of Homeland Security said in a 2015 statement. “Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets have convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.”

Austin Energy warns against phone scammers threatening to cut off power

Statement from Austin Energy:

08.14.11 Alberto Martínez AMERICAN-STATESMAN -- A large utility pole off US 183 is part of the grid that distributes power throughout the city. Austin Energy is reporrting a boom in business as the brutal summer prompts people to consume more electricity.

Several Austin residents have reported receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from Austin Energy, demanding payment of their utility bill within a half-hour, or power will be shut off. If the resident fell for the scam, the scammers presumably would ask for credit card, gift card or bank account information to complete the payment.

Austin Energy, the City’s electric utility, was alerted to the scam callers by the Austin Police Department.

Austin Energy — which manages City of Austin utility billing for water, electricity and other services — does not phone customers with cut-off deadlines, and does not ask for credit card or wire transfer information over the phone.

Austin Energy accepts walk-in payments ONLY at the city’s two walk-in service centers or the following authorized locations: the customer service counters of most Austin H-E-B stores, ACE Cash Express, Money Box, Fiesta Mart and Randall’s.

Staff at authorized locations will ask to see the customer’s utility bill statement before accepting payment.

If an Austin Energy customer receives a phone call threatening to interrupt service, demand immediate payment, or request credit card or bank account information, hang up and dial 3-1-1 or (512) 974-2000 and report the incident immediately.

In addition, anyone who has received such a call and is uncertain of his or her account status can call the Customer Contact Center at (512) 494-9400.

Customers also can call the City of Austin’s Customer Contact Center to ask about the locations and hours of the City’s two walk-in customer service centers.

  • Utility Service Center (east branch) Rosewood-Zaragosa Center, 2800 Webberville Road, Austin, Texas 78702
  • Utility Customer Service Center (north branch), 8716 Research Blvd, Suite 115, Austin, Texas 78758 (near Ohlen Road and Highway 183)

City of Austin utility customers who wish to make a utility bill payment by credit card can do so online at www.coautilities.com or by calling (800) 959-7063, which connects the customer to the City of Austin’s automated utilities payment service (Bill Matrix) to make a payment via credit or debit card or electronic check. City of Austin customer service representatives may give customers this web address or phone number but will NOT ask for a customer’s credit card number to accept payment.

Victoria mosque fire: Authorities offer $30,000 reward in arson case

From the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives:

 

HOUSTON – The Houston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Victoria Islamic Center Mosque, and Crime Stoppers are announcing a reward of up to $30,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for the fire that destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center Mosque.

victoria-fire
A reward of up to $30,000 has been offered for information about a suspected arson fire that destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center Mosque last month.

On Jan. 28, 2017, at 2:11am, the Victoria Fire Department responded to a fire at the Victoria Islamic Center Mosque located at 201 E. Airline Road in Victoria, Texas. The fire fully engulfed the building causing an estimated $500,000 in damage.

The ATF, along with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Victoria Fire Marshal and Department of Public Safety immediately began conducting an investigation into the origin and cause of this fire.

The investigative agencies have classified the fire as incendiary, or intentionally set. At this time, the evidence does not indicate the fire was a biased crime.

“Houses of worship are a sacred place in this country, and ATF is committed to devoting the necessary resources to solving this crime,” said Fred Milanowski, the special agent in charge of the ATF Houston Field Division. “We are working closely with our local law enforcement and emergency service partners on this investigation and ask that anyone with information about this incident please report it.”

Victoria Fire Chief Taner Drake said “The investigators are working feverishly to follow all leads that will lead to the arrest of the person(s) responsible”.

ATF and The Victoria Islamic Center Mosque are each offering a $10,000 reward and Crime Stoppers is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for this crime.

Anyone with any information about this crime should contact ATF at 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3474) or Crime Stoppers at 361-572-4200. Individuals can also submit information through the mobile ReportIt® app, available both on Google Play and the Apple App Store. All individuals providing tips can remain anonymous.

More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov.

Former Austin police chief Art Acevedo comments on missing Tom Brady jersey

On Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, Art Acevedo, current chief of the Houston Police Department and former chief of the Austin Police Department, returned to Huston-Tillotson University in Austin to speak on the Race & Policing in Texas panel during the Race & Public Policy symposium hosted by the Texas Tribune. (RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
On Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, Art Acevedo, current chief of the Houston Police Department and former chief of the Austin Police Department, returned to Huston-Tillotson University in Austin to speak on the Race & Policing in Texas panel during the Race & Public Policy symposium hosted by the Texas Tribune. (RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The disappearance of a historic Super Bowl item makes for some flashy headlines, but Austin’s former police chief is keeping cool about the search.

Just over two months into his new gig as Houston Police Chief, Art Acevedo oversaw the massive Super Bowl LI weekend. After the Patriots defeated the Falcons in overtime, New England’s quarterback Tom Brady revealed that his game jersey had gone missing.

Acevedo spoke to 104.9 The Horn Tuesday morning to talk about Houston’s big weekend and set the record straight on his department’s access to the team’s locker room.

“The truth is that the NFL handles security inside the locker rooms,” Acevedo said.

On Monday the Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that the Texas Rangers would be assisting the Houston Police Department to find the jersey. While the extra help is great, Acevedo explained his department has other pressing matters.

“It might be the highest priority for [the] lieutenant governor, I can tell you we had three homicides the night of the Super Bowl in the city of Houston, and we’d like to find it, but I don’t think we’re burning the midnight oil worrying about a jersey.” Acevedo said. “It’s just not the biggest, greatest importance in the big scheme of things.”

The chief mentioned he told his staff to keep their priorities in check.

“I told those guys, ‘Hey guys, we’ll give it a run, but let’s keep things in perspective, it’s a jersey,'” Acevedo said.

Listen to the Acevedo’s exchange on the “Mornings with Bucky & Erin” show around the 34:00 minute mark below.

What people are saying about the Texas Rangers and Tom Brady’s missing jersey

USE THIS PHOTO   New England Patriots Tom Brady stays on his knees after being sack on Sunday, Feb. 5 , 2017 during the NFL Super Bowl LI football game at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
New England Patriots Tom Brady stays on his knees after being sack on Sunday, Feb. 5 , 2017 during the NFL Super Bowl LI football game at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Tom Brady has another ring to add to his championship collection soon, but for now, the jersey he wore during Super Bowl LI is missing in action. The New England Patriots quarterback told reporters his jersey went missing after the team’s overtime win (a first in NFL history) over the Atlanta Falcons in Houston.

After Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced the Texas Rangers (no, NOT the baseball team) would be helping the police find Brady’s jersey, the reaction was swift online. Some folks on Twitter questioned whether Patrick should be allowing the use of the state’s resources to recover the memento in the midst of other political issues.

 

A few people suggested the most famous — and fictional — Texas Ranger to assist with the case.

https://twitter.com/JamesonVT/status/828677206104821765

Others looked at the news a bit more humorously, including the states’s other Texas Rangers.

Check out scenes from Super Bowl LI here and watch Brady discuss his vanishing jersey below.

Travis County sheriff’s office seeking volunteers to help crime victims

From the Travis County sheriff’s office:

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Unit is seeking volunteers to provide immediate assistance to victims of various criminal and crisis circumstances including, but not limited to: Family Violence, Sexual Assaults, Child/Elder Abuse, Aggravated Assaults, Robberies/Burglaries, Suicides, Structure Fires, Death Notifications, Natural/Accidental Deaths and Major Traffic Accidents.

Volunteers must complete a comprehensive training program that is scheduled for March 13 – April 1, 2017. (Mondays 6 – 9pm, Thursdays 6 – 9pm, Saturdays 9am – 5pm) Volunteers will also be accompanied on a series of calls before being cleared to take calls independently.

TCSO is seeking persons of excellent moral standing with the sensitivity and self-awareness necessary to provide effective assistance to those in crisis. Volunteers need to be 21 or older, with a reliable, insured vehicle, a working cell phone and a schedule that allows for (4) four-hour shifts of on-call duty per month.

To volunteer, visit https://www.tcsheriff.org/victim-services/volunteers.

Travis County sheriff’s office seeks help identifying burglary suspects

From the Travis County sheriff’s office:

The Travis County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help identifying persons suspected of burglarizing various businesses. The photos attached are from a burglary that took place Christmas Day at Life Storage, 2440 W. Whitestone, in Cedar Park. The suspects are a white male and female with two black dogs wearing orange service dog style vests. They’re seen in the video footage driving a small blue SUV, possibly a Kia.

Seven burglaries were reported earlier in 2016 involving the same suspect vehicle.

TCSO asks that anyone with information about the suspects or details of the burglaries call Crime Stoppers at 512-472-8477.

burglary-suspects

burglary-suspect-car

burglary-suspects-2

burglary-suspects-car-2