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DPS Director demands tech to curb fake inspections as State Troopers step up crackdown.

Texas State Troopers and Department of Public Safety regulatory investigators have launched an operation around Dallas and surrounding areas to locate over 700 vehicle inspectors that the department suspects of being involved in faking vehicle safety and emissions inspections. An investigation into the inspectors connected to state-licensed inspection shops has forced them to divert resources from high-priority matters to lower priority ones. According to reports from NBC 5 Investigates, the vehicle inspection computer system overseen by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) was not programmed to prevent an inspector from issuing a false passing report even though the system captures data red flags – this has led to tens of thousands of fake inspections.
At least five arrests have been made so far, and more than two dozen inspection stations have been locked out of the state system. Since the lockouts were put in place, DPS said more than 100 inspectors had been prevented from accessing the system. Some of the current problems could have been avoided if the lockouts had been put into place over a decade ago, but DPS wasn’t even aware that the lockouts existed. With this in mind, Steven McCraw, DPS Director, is calling on TCEQ to make the necessary software changes now to help cut down the number of stations and inspectors his agency needs to investigate. 
However, in order to prevent vehicle inspectors from falsely passing cars in real-time instead of after the fact, TCEQ said it would also have to modify the emissions analyzer software. Until this change is made, these falsely inspected vehicles will still receive their inspection report at the end of the inspection. Experts say that stations conducting fraudulent inspections can now use emissions system simulators or surrogate cars to falsify an inspection, and the vehicle that passes doesn’t even have to visit the shop. Furthermore, police have found that the inspection businesses they were looking for were not at their registered address, nor was the emissions analyzer device – an example which highlights the challenges of investigations after the fact. 
As a result, officials are working together to enhance the enforcement tools for the inspection and maintenance programme. However, TCEQ has not yet made a decision about the software change McCraw is requesting. The TCEQ says it is having discussions with DPS about possible ways to enhance the programme.  
McCraw acknowledged Thursday that some of the current problems could have been headed off if those lockouts had been put in place a decade ago. “Absolutely, there’s no question about it,” McCraw said. “And, the sooner they can do that, the better,” McCraw told NBC 5. “I’m confident they want the same thing as we do. And I can assure you that the both of us will be working towards that end,” they added.

Mark Long

At Dallas Metro, Mark has the freedom to explore his interests and delve deep into stories that matter. Whether he's investigating corruption in local government or writing about the latest trends in technology, Mark brings his own brand of wit and insight to every piece he writes.

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