Conroe, October 6 – A reader asked why The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper is sometimes so very negative and sometimes so very positive. The answer is the Great Philosophical Divide: there are some functions that government is great at accomplishing while there are other functions at which government is just plain terrible. That’s why there’s such an appearance in this newspaper, which, of course, just reports the facts.
John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick agreed across four centuries that government has a natural purpose of providing law enforcement and national security. Those two functions of government are the central purpose of citizens gathering together to form “mutual protective societies” that, in some instances, they call the Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Defense.
When government extends its reach into other functions, where citizens have not unanimously agreed there is an appropriate purpose, government tends to fail in its actions. Governments are terrible at economic development planning and implementation. From the Soviet Union to Craig Doyal’s and Charlie Riley’s Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, government fails at directing businesses and the economy. In three decades of existence, the Montgomery County Airport has never even broken even. Worse yet, the Airport has largely failed to boost businesses to congregate near its perimeter. The Montgomery County Airport region is largely a congregation of convenience stores and government buildings, as well as the ghost town known as the “Deison Technology Park.”
The Montgomery County government spends far too much money, hires way too many employees, fails to supervise those employees, does a terrible job prosecuting road and bridge projects, and fails to take measure of its budget. The County lacks any substantive ethics policy, suffers rampant conflicts of interest, operates largely in purposeful secrecy, and is overwhelmed by elected official and employee nepotism. Those are the greatest negatives.
We should never forget the positives, however. Montgomery County enjoys a super law enforcement community. The highest law enforcement officers in Montgomery County are Sheriff Rand Henderson and District Attorney Brett Ligon. When it comes to law enforcement against violent crimes, both Henderson and Ligon are superb leaders. More importantly, their troops are of the highest quality from the Sheriff’s Office and DA’s Office leadership teams to the patrol officers and prosecuting trial attorneys.
Precinct 2 Constable Gene De Forest is a wonderful example of a great peace officer. As the Constable in the County Seat of Conroe, De Forest is primarily responsible for the service of civil process throughout Montgomery County. He supervises an administrative staff that ensures civil lawsuit papers, criminal warrants, and other legal instruments go to the right place in a timely manner. De Forest and his team are directly involved in public safety in River Plantation and other areas outside of the City of Conroe where its Police Department takes charge. De Forest has also joined the County law enforcement community’s national leadership in the effort to stop Internet Crimes Against Children. All the while, De Forest is one of the most kindhearted and gentle souls one could ever meet on the streets of our community. The people of River Plantation, where De Forest regularly patrols, adore him and appreciate the strong sense of public safety he bears.
Another great example of the positive strength of Montgomery County’s law enforcement community is the entire team in Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden’s Office in East Montgomery County. Hayden is a hands-on leader who is regularly involved in leading law enforcement actions at the front. His officers have high morale because they realize that the citizens of East County truly appreciate their efforts. East Montgomery County suffers from crime ancillary to the Highway 59 corridor, which has become one of the largest drug distribution networks in the United States. Hayden and his deputies show sincerity and drive in their mission to bring safety to the growing East Montgomery County community. One of the reasons this newspaper enjoys publishing Hayden’s bi-weekly “arrest blotter” is the incredible diversity of the crimes which appear in those reports. Watching the superstar Hayden fight crime is like watching a serious version of the Houston Texans defensive line and linebackers fend off the opposing team’s offense. That concept isn’t meant to belittle Hayden and his law enforcement team. Rather, their excellence in their work makes them a source of enjoyment for citizens to observe.
The law enforcement community does not only consist of peace officers. Every citizen of Montgomery County should spend at least one hour watching the Sheriff’s Office’s 911/Dispatch/Communications Division. The women and men who work long and intense hours fielding emotionally-draining telephone calls and dispatching officers to the scenes are some of the most disciplined human beings among us. They must sit for hours, conduct dozens of tasks at once, and handle the most awful and unpredictable circumstances.
When citizens come into contact with members of our law enforcement community, they often don’t realize the extent and degree of training through which those individuals have passed. The Sheriff’s Office Citizens Academy provides its students with a glimpse of the training and degree of skill which every law enforcement officer in Montgomery County must possess before she or he ever walks out onto our streets with a badge.
The high level of kindhearted skill among those women and men who risk their lives for our public safety every day is surely the greatest positive of Montgomery County as a community. It’s also the greatest positive of the Montgomery County government, as Locke, Hobbes, Jefferson, Friedman, and Nozick would predict.