Image: The cover of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most recent annual report, Crime in the United States 2015.
Conroe, May 1 – Despite claiming to be one of the most conservative and Republican counties in the United States, Montgomery County’s shortfall of full-time sworn peace officers – policemen – is substantial. The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, conducted a survey of the number of full-time sworn peace officers in each of the law enforcement departments of Montgomery County and concluded that there is a shortfall of over 500 peace officers countywide. That number is significant, because it represents approximately one-third of the number of officers a community of approximately 562,000, the current County population according to the United States Census Bureau, would need to meet the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national standard of 2.7 police officers per 1000 population.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s latest annual report, Crime in the United States 2015, the average number of sworn peace officers nationwide is 2.7 full-time officers per 1000 population. That statistic does not include part-time officers or reserves.
Montgomery County’s total number of full-time sworn peace officers in its law enforcement departments is 988. The total should be approximately 1,517 in order to be consistent with the FBI’s national average. Montgomery County’s number of full-time peace officers is instead 1.76 per 1000 people rather than the 2.7 it should be.
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon has long maintained that this community suffers from a significant shortage of police officers.
The numbers support Ligon’s contention that Montgomery County has inadequately provided funding for the Sheriff’s and Constable’s Departments.
Over the past two weeks, The Golden Hammer compiled the number of full-time officers in each County, municipal, and school police department. The numbers follow:
County Departments # Full-time Sworn Peace Officers
Sheriff’s Office 487
Constable, Pct. 1 29
Constable, Pct. 2 13
Constable, Pct. 3 44
Constable, Pct. 4 30
Constable, Pct. 5 23
District Attorney 18
Cut and Shoot 4 (part-time counted as full-time)
Montgomery 11 (2 current vacancies)
Oak Ridge North 16
Panorama Village 6
Roman Forest 7
Stagecoach 5 (part-time counted as full-time)
Conroe ISD 60
Lone Star College – Mont. 22 (estimated by administrative office, since they rotate)
Montgomery ISD 6
New Caney ISD 11
Splendora ISD 3
Willis ISD 6
Total to meet FBI average 1,517
Montgomery County shortfall 529
In the coming budget cycle, as the County addresses the massively wasteful spending in other County Departments, Montgomery County should make a far greater resource commitment to its law enforcement departments – the Sheriff, District Attorney, and five Constables. As the Sheriff noted in his strategic plan presentation on April 11, 2017, to the Commissioners Court, certain types of crimes, especially property crimes, are on the rise. Furthermore, there is no question that drug trafficking is a growing problem, especially in East Montgomery County. Mostly, Montgomery County needs to place more “boots on the ground” to support the brave men and women providing public safety to our citizens.