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Dallas County Clean Air Task Force Shuts Down

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The only task force in North Texas focused on stopping the sale of fake paper license plates shut down Friday.

Detectives said the move by Gov. Greg Abbott hurts all drivers on the road.

"I was here when we first opened up the doors," said Lt. Lawrence Mccall

Mccall helped start the Dallas County Clean Air Task Force nearly 10 years ago.

Now, the offices are empty and their equipment has been given away.

"The cabinets are cleared out. Surveillance equipment, vehicles we were using, body cams. All gone," said Mccall.

The 14-member task force went after drivers with fake paper license plates.

They said some drivers use a fake temporary tag when their car won't pass inspection, they want to hide from police or they don't want to pay tolls on the tollway.

"By looking at the boxes, it shows me that it's the end," said Mccall.

Each box in the task force conference room contains thousands of closed cases.

"There are thousands of tickets, thousands of arrests. I can say that we helped the majority of them. By investigating them, we were able to find out that they were victims," said Mccall.

Mccall explained that some drivers didn't know the temp tags they were given were fake.

"A lot of our consumers had been victimized," said Mccall.

McCall explained there are several reasons regular police officers can't tackle the problem of fake paper plates.

"When they aren't trained, they think those paper tags came from a dealership. We were trying to go for the big fish, we were trying to go for the people that was actulaly making the paper tags. Giving these people false hope that their vehicle was a legitimate vehicle," said Mccall.

Gov. Abbott vetoed all funding to the states clean air programs in July.

County officials told CBS 11 that Abbott thought he was only cutting off money to the state's cash for clunkers program.

They said he didn't know his signature would cut off money to clean air task forces across the state.

"How could you not know that? Or how could someone in your group not know that and tell you that? It seems a little ridiculous," said Task Force Captain John Dohman.

"My mom and dad always taught me, if you do something wrong, make it right. When you make a mistake make it right. When it was identified that a mistake had been made then it should have been corrected," said Mccall.

No one from the state or county stepped in to fund the unit.

Now, dozens of open cases will be passed off to other detectives with a full case load and no training in fake license plates.

"It's similar to giving your child away to someone else to take care of. When you are capable of taking care of them yourself," said Mccall.

By the close of business Friday, the task force was done.

One of the men who started it all will be there to finish it.

"Just like a captain of a ship when it goes down, most likely, he's the last one to go down with the ship. And I want to be the one to lock up when we leave," said Mccall.

The deputies and detectives have been assigned to other departments in the county.

Officials with the North Texas Council of Governments, or COG, told the I-Team they are trying to come up with enough money to reassemble the task force by Christmas.

Although, several county sources told CBS 11 it's unrealistic to think they can get everyone back together that quickly once they allowed the task force to be disbanded.

"The crime will triple, quadruple because there will be no one out there to enforce these laws, these regulations," said Mccall.

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