Editorial: Merit and sound law enforcement need to push politics out of the way in Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office

Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer

Rand Henderson, who is Montgomery County’s Sheriff we elected in 2016, has had a great career as a law enforcement officer, yet he was doomed to be a failure as a Sheriff. Henderson still has a serious opportunity to pick himself up and be the great Sheriff that many people know he could be.

In the past eight weeks, Henderson has lost one member (Captain Eaves) of his “leadership team” to suicide, one (Captain Carlisle) to suspension followed by a resignation as part of a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, one (Captain and Jail Administrator Coward) to resignation in the face of serious criminal charges for presenting a false certification and false continuing education to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and one (Captain Ray) to suspension during a very serious investigation involving a number of issues. At least three other members of his “leadership team” face serious questions or investigations involving the Texas Rangers.

This newspaper solidly supports law enforcement. Although the purpose of this newspaper is to reduce government spending, law enforcement and national security are two philosophically justifiable roles of government as a “mutual collective association” (in the parlance of the Enlightenment movement) of the citizens to provide for our public safety.

This newspaper solidly supports the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the brave men and women who work there, and the other law enforcement agencies of our County government. Those individuals risk their lives and their safety every day they go to work in order to protect the rest of us.

What is clear, however, is that Sheriff Henderson has suffered a bad start. He has antagonized hundreds of his “troops.” Vacancies in the Sheriff’s Office are at an all-time high. Henderson had hoped to put more patrol officers into Montgomery County communities but the rapid departures of officers have left his force severely depleted. Morale is at a terrible low.

What is also clear is that the community of Montgomery County citizens solidly support and appreciate the peace officers who protect us.

Therefore, we must ask the question: why has someone with as much talent as Rand Henderson had so much trouble with the people around him?

The answer: P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S. Politics.

If Rand Henderson had run for Sheriff in 2016, there’s no doubt that he would have won the race. The women and men of the Sheriff’s Office backed him, and Henderson has natural talent as a candidate.

Instead, however, Henderson ran unnaturally. He hired a political consultant named Marc Davenport. Davenport charged Henderson $70,000 to run a successful campaign (which Henderson could have done without that payment) and to help Henderson with political advice after Henderson came into office.

The citizens of Montgomery County, however, didn’t elect Marc Davenport to act as the principal advisor of the new Sheriff. Rather than making decisions on merit and sound law enforcement policy, Henderson made the fundamental mistake of allowing a non-law enforcement person marshal him towards political decisions.

Henderson has focused his energy during his first two-and-a-half years on building strong community relations and developing a good relationship with the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. Henderson already had good community relations as did the Sheriff’s Office. Henderson was a lot more popular than the Commissioners Court and generally has gotten everything he’s wanted from them.

Where Henderson has erred, however, is in allowing politics to guide his decisions within the Sheriff’s Office. Those decisions have caused a lot of dissension among the hundreds of certified peace officers and support personnel who work there. Those decisions answer the question why Henderson’s leadership team has been decimated by scandal.

Henderson needs to step back and pull from his natural ability as a leader and as a law enforcement officer. Henderson needs a leadership team that will run the Sheriff’s Office day to day, while Henderson focuses on strengthening his relationships one-by-one with the people who really count to make him and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office as great as they can be: the wonderful law enforcement women and men who work to protect this community every day.

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