District attorney gives van to police department
Smiling, Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler handed over the keys Monday to a white 2500 Chevrolet van.
The van was given to the Victoria Police Department's crime scene unit.
His office purchased the vehicle for $30,611.80 after the crime scene technicians were stranded several times en route to a Corpus Christi DNA lab.
The four women drove around with their tools in a 1994 Astro van with many miles and years on it.
"I sure like to get stuff back on time, so we got them a better set of wheels," Tyler said.
The van, which is outfitted with storage racks, a rubber floor, side doors, radio and air conditioning, was funded by criminals, not taxpayers.
That's because Chapter 59 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows for the forfeiture of contraband.
For example, law enforcement may seize cars belonging to suspects with excessive driving while intoxicated charges or proceeds of the sale of marijuana.
The spoils are roughly split between the agencies who worked the investigation after a civil proceeding authorizes it, Tyler said.
"They don't come like clock work," he said. "The funds are the result of hard work by law enforcement."
Tyler previously cut checks to certify a dog handling team and send prosecutors back to school.
He estimated there was still about $700,000 in the pot.
"I like to keep a nest egg," he said.
Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig said the van will not only make his crime scene unit more efficient but will also create some breathing room in the budget. He hopes to buy surveillance items this year.
All officers work hard every day, but rewards like this are in the back of their minds, he said.
"They realize that there are oftentimes fruits to their labor," Craig said.