Image: On August 10, 2018, Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson met then-United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. Henderson is a gifted politician and his own best friend and worst enemy.
Conroe, December 10 – Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson is the seventh (7th) Most Powerful Person of the Top Ten Most Powerful People in Montgomery County. Henderson has had a rough 2018. He’s been his own worst enemy, but he’s also been his best friend.
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, continues the tradition of listing the Power Top Ten, the ten most powerful people in Montgomery County. The Power Top Ten doesn’t commemorate the ten best people in Montgomery County necessarily, but the most powerful people who are actually able to accomplish political or policy goals. In other words, he or she can get things done in Montgomery County. This year is the second that The Golden Hammer is publishing this list. In 2016, the Publisher of this newspaper published the list on social media before this newspaper began.
So far, The Golden Hammer has named three members of the Power Top Ten:
#8: Simon Sequeira, Quadvest President and property rights advocate
#9: John Holzwarth and the Montgomery County government vendors’ “Deep State” (with assists from Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador and lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal)
#10: United States Congressman Kevin Brady.
Power Top Ten #7: Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson
Sheriff Rand Henderson is the seventh Most Powerful Person in Montgomery County despite himself. Henderson made two critical mistakes when he ran for Sheriff. First, he didn’t recognize his own ability as a politician. Second, he fell into a terrible trap known as Marc Davenport, the corrupt local political boss who posed as a “political consultant.” Clearly, one of Henderson’s marked accomplishments during 2018 was to get away from Davenport.
Henderson is a strong law enforcement officer and a good Sheriff. Nevertheless, he had a rough 2018.
At the urging of Davenport, Henderson chose his leadership team based upon the political support the appointees had provided to him when he ran for office in 2016. By the end of 2017, Henderson’s first year in office as Sheriff, it became very apparent that the line officers, also known as the patrol officers, within the Sheriff’s Office were extremely upset with him, as they felt Henderson was out of touch and downright callous towards their needs as peace officers and as employees of the largest Department in Montgomery County’s government.
The rebellion of Henderson’s officers became open and ugly in the March 2018 time frame. Within a few weeks, Henderson lost one of his Captains to suicide, one to suspension for family violence and alcohol abuse and the very poor handling of an incident involving the Conroe Police Department (which ultimately brought down the Chief of the Conroe Police Department as well), one to suspension for multiple blatant violations of general orders prohibiting romantic relationships with subordinates, and one to falsifying of certification records. With all of those disasters occurring together around the same time, Henderson terminated his Chief Deputy, who had risen far above his level of competence and had become a management disaster and ethical disappointment.
The people who deserve the most credit for bringing reform to the Sheriff’s Office during 2018 were the patrol officers who stood up for themselves and for the community as a whole. Many of those men and women genuinely risked their careers to confront Sheriff Henderson and his managers.
Unlike many politicians, who come into those jobs because of their lack of skills in other fields, Henderson responded. He met with individuals who could bring him back towards law enforcement and genuine leadership of the approximately five hundred peace officers in the Sheriff’s Office. He defenestrated Davenport as his political consultant. Henderson began to dismantle the wall between him and his officers. Since late spring, Henderson has done a better job listening to his excellent staff who risk their lives every day they put on a uniform to protect us.
Henderson appointed a new team of Captains based far more upon merit for the positions than on politics. One of those appointments included Captain Andrew Eason as the new Jail Administrator. Eason was not a political supporter of Henderson at all, but Eason did merit the promotion and has done an outstanding job running the jail, according to others in law enforcement. Henderson also made the wise decision – after discussions with others – not to replace his Chief Deputy but rather to act as his own Chief Deputy.
By focusing more on law enforcement and less on public relations, Henderson has vastly improved his relationships with the core of his office: the almost nine hundred women and men who comprise the peace officers who keep Montgomery County as safe as possible and the vital support staff who work with them. They are one-third of the entire Montgomery County government.
By focusing more on law enforcement and less on public relations, Henderson has shown that he is truly a law enforcement leader rather than the politician some were pushing Henderson to become.
Philosophically (Locke, Hobbes, Nozick, and (Ayn) Rand), law enforcement is the one moral function of County government. On budget issues, Henderson showed that law enforcement officers come to government service with a basic morality that most others don’t.
Henderson and his team, including Sheriff’s Office Finance Director Carol Thompson, were the only County Department which engaged in zero-based budgeting. It was a monumental effort but paid Henderson and the Sheriff’s Office off with an excellent budget proposal. In return, the Commissioners Court, especially County Judge Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador abused the Sheriff’s Office mightily. Riley and Meador, clearly, are no friends to law enforcement. Doyal appeared embarrassed but went along with most of their abusive decisions anyway. Henderson, County Attorney J.D. Lambright, and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark very openly supported the efforts of the Citizens Budget Committee to provide some suggestions for reducing waste and inefficiency in the County Budget. All three of them have done a lot – both publicly and privately – towards moving Montgomery County in a fiscally-conservative direction, despite the pro-big-government mentality of some of the other elected servants.
In fact, there’s a strong relationship in general between the conservative activist community and the entire Sheriff’s Office, which isn’t particularly surprising given the philosophical morality of government’s law enforcement function. That relationship, however, is particularly strong, because of the basic conservatism of the men and women who work in the Sheriff’s Office, particularly the peace officers. It’s genuinely fun to stop and talk to the Sheriff’s Deputies in Montgomery County. They’re good people. They believe in this community. They appreciate citizens who thank them for the risks they take for us every day. They do a lot more than merely “assist” Sheriff Henderson in what he does. They have made him what he is and it’s taken a rough year for Sheriff Henderson, who is a good person and very sincere, to come to that understanding.
Last year, The Golden Hammer named Henderson as #8 in the Power Top Ten and concluded the article, “If Henderson could eschew the politics (and Davenport), he could be one of the great Sheriffs in Montgomery County’s history. As the leader of more than one-third of the personnel of the Montgomery County government, he most certainly can already accomplish a lot.”
It’s not all unicorns and daffodils inside the Sheriff’s Office yet. Nevertheless, Henderson has hoisted himself upwards and forwards by adapting to circumstances and by addressing his own serious mistakes. Just talk to the vast majority of patrol officers inside the Sheriff’s Office and you’ll get a sense that our most important County Department is moving forward and upward.