Eric Yollick, Former Publisher, The Golden Hammer
In “state of nature theory” within John Locke’s Second Treatise, government’s legitimate purpose is to provide law enforcement, to provide for the national defense, and, in some instances, to resolve private disputes which otherwise wouldn’t obtain resolution. Clearly, law enforcement and the national defense are government functions which decision makers should choose to provide adequate resources.
Since the founding of The Golden Hammer, we have always taken the position that the Montgomery County Commissioners Court has failed to provide adequate resources for law enforcement to do its job. While we’ve argued for and even fought for reduced government spending, it’s always been clear that this newspaper supports providing law enforcement officers and their support staff with sufficient allocations of funds in order to provide for the public’s safety.
Every year just before the Commissioners Court goes through its Annual Budget process, we’ve heard Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson provide either a “strategic plan,” a “work force study,” or an update to one of those carefully-crafted studies in which the Sheriff and more than 760 employees of his County Department argue for more personnel, additional equipment, and greater resources. Clearly, those are essential functions.
In order to mitigate some of the sting for law enforcement’s requests for greater funds, Sheriff Henderson has implemented some semblance of “zero-based budgeting” and actually offered substantial spending reductions in many areas of the Sheriff’s Office. Sadly, however, the Commissioners Court has accepted Sheriff Henderson’s “belt-tightening,” but they’ve continued every year to treat the Sheriff’s Office and particularly the Constables of Precincts Four and Five as though they are merely other County Departments feeding off of the taxpayers’ trough to get more funds for salaries and benefits.
That is not at all what those County Departments are.
The Sheriff’s Office is the core of the County government and its entire purpose. They are the 9-1-1 agency which receives the emergency calls when the public safety is at risk. The Constable of Precinct Four, Rowdy Hayden, is very much at the forefront of the “war on drugs” in the United States. Precinct Four sits on Highway 69, a major thoroughfare for drug trafficking coming from south Texas and spreading across the entire country. The Constable of Precinct Five, Chris Jones, is waging battle against the scourge of crystal methamphetamine and other horrific drugs and narcotics which dominate communities where a lot of money flows.
It’s way past time for the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to stop treating those County Departments, as well as the other law enforcement departments, as though they’re the same as other County government functions which simply are not the core of the County’s purpose.
In reality, while Sheriff Henderson is not perfect by any means, he has shown a willingness to adapt his leadership to improve his service and to bring about important changes in the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Henderson has also shown that he deeply considers Constitutional issues as he implements actions to protect the public safety.
On Tuesday, Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley will offer a non-binding proclamation to declare Montgomery County a “gun sanctuary” under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution in order to protect “the right to keep and bear arms.” That proclamation doesn’t go far enough. The Commissioners Court should give the Sheriff authority to use his discretionary powers to prioritize the use of his department’s resources in the enforcement of state and federal firearm laws that infringe on the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment. In other words, the Sheriff might choose not to enforce such firearm laws which he believes infringe upon gun rights under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Clearly, it’s time the Commissioners Court treats our law enforcement Departments better than one of the stepchildren begging for tax dollars.
Law enforcement is and should be a priority. That’s the purpose of County government. The Commissioners Court needs to recognize that reality.