Perry disappointed in DPS lapse before fire

June 23, 2008 2:44:44 PM PDT
Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that he's disappointed in the "lapses" at the Department of Public Safety that allowed an arsonist to torch the historic Governor's Mansion earlier this month.It was Perry's first public response to an ongoing DPS investigation that has so far found that security was inadequate the night of the fire.

"Obviously, we're disappointed that there was not the response from some of those who realized that there were some lapses there, and that the leadership had not accepted those," he said, apparently referring to unheeded requests that additional guards be placed on duty at the mansion.

Part of the investigation made public last week found that a single state trooper guarding the Governor's Mansion was inadequately trained and ill-equipped to guard the grounds

Additionally, only 13 of the 20 security cameras on the mansion grounds were operating and the trooper was on his second shift of the day when the fire was first reported just after 1:30 a.m., according to the DPS report.

Perry said he did not believe the problems were a result of insufficient funds.

The state fire marshal, who is investigating the fire, has said video footage shows a suspect in the early morning hours of June 8, standing in front of the Governor's Mansion, igniting an object and throwing it onto the porch of the historic landmark, creating a fireball and blaze that ravaged the 152-year old structure.

The trooper on guard at the time was turned away from the security console in the carriage house behind the mansion and was working on a computer on the other side of the room. DPS Sgt. Michael Escalante said troopers guarding the mansion are allowed a certain amount of personal time to watch television or use the computer.

"As the chairman said it was not the DPS' finest day," Perry said.

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