Image of Brewster County Sheriff’s Department vehicle, as submitted in a request to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton by 83rd District Attorney Rod Ponton.
Christmas is a time for friends, family, and sometimes…culture wars. There’s been a dust-up in Alpine over the appearance of crosses on Brewster County police vehicles. On Monday, the Texas Attorney General was formally asked to weigh-on on the matter.
Rod Ponton, 83rd District Attorney and a resident of Alpine, explained the situation, “The Brewster County Sheriff’s Department allowed their deputies to place blue crosses on the rear of the deputy patrol vehicles.”
Ponton said when crosses first started appearing on cop cars months ago, no one made a fuss, but recently some in Alpine questioned the county’s judgement. The sheriff’s office asked Ponton to request an opinion from Texas Attorney General Paxton.
“I’ve asked the Texas Attorney General to give us an opinion,” said Ponton, “on whether placing a cross on these cars violates the Constitution.” That’s the “establishment clause” of the U.S. Constitution – the “separation of church and state” – that, at times, requires interpretation.
“I attached two recent Texas Attorney General opinions that support the fact that it’s legal to place a cross on a patrol car,” Ponton asserted. Those two opinions were from November 4th, with Paxton supporting the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on patrol cars in the Panhandle town of Childress, and from December 15th, supporting a nativity scene at Orange City Hall in East Texas.
The Brewster County Sheriff’s Department and the 83rd District Attorney hope to have a response from the Attorney General within 30 days.