Conroe, August 22 – Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson discussed the Sheriff’s Office’s patrol officer shortfall, after the Montgomery County Commissioners Court rejected his budget request, when he spoke to the Montgomery County Tea Party on Monday, August 20. “We’re still 82 deputies short, but the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office are stepping up and getting the job done,” Henderson told the crowd.
Sheriff Henderson discussed in detail the care with which he and Sheriff’s Office Finance Director Carol Thompson formulated the budget presentation for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018. “The highlight of our budget presentation was zero-based budgeting. We worked to get cost centers built…This year we came into the budget workshop with high expectations that we’d do our job and present our budget regardless of politics.”
Unfortunately for Sheriff Henderson, his team in the Sheriff’s Office, and the citizens of Montgomery County, politics and the burning desire of the Commissioners Court to give themselves pay raises under the pretext of a 3% across-the-board raise to all County employees, rather than the raises for lower tier employees only that the County’s Budget Office Director and other human resource professionals had recommended, the Commissioners Court rejected law enforcement needs and allocated limited funds to themselves.
As Henderson explained, during his first year in office in 2017, the Sheriff’s Office didn’t ask for operational funds but did ask for personnel. During this second year, for Fiscal Year 2019, the Sheriff’s Office actually cut more than $708,000 from the current Fiscal Year’s operational budget, but asked for a number of patrol officers, managers, and support staff in order to reduce the enormous shortfall the Sheriff’s Office 2018 Workload Analysis identified. “The Workload Analysis, which we subject to national peer review, found that our Patrol Divisions are 82 deputies short…We have approximately 500 deputies of which 300 are assigned to patrol duties, with 1 sergeant to every 5 deputies,” the Sheriff said.
The Commissioners Court agreed only to give the Sheriff’s Office one crime scene investigator and one property evidence technician with no additional patrol officers.
Under the new emphasis of the Sheriff’s Office on “community policing,” Deputies know the geographic areas where they work and the people who live and work there, so they tend to be more efficient in preventing crimes as well as in solving crimes after they occur. Henderson noted that The Woodlands Division of the Sheriff’s Office had previously implemented community policing concepts, but Henderson broadened community policing to the rest of Montgomery County as well. Under community policing principles, “When our Deputies see people in this community, they get a thumbs up from friends and acquaintances, not the other finger that police often get in places like Chicago,” Henderson quipped.
Sheriff Henderson also mentioned:
- The Real Time Crime Center has had amazing results in solving crimes after Sheriff Henderson and the Sheriff’s Office implemented that new approach.
- The Montgomery County Jail currently has a population of 1,000 inmates with a capacity of 1,253. 100 of those inmates have ICE detainers on them, meaning that the County is holding those inmates for eventual transfer to ICE for illegal immigration reasons.
- The Veterans Pod program of the County Jail has enjoyed phenomenal success. Only one person who was an inmate in the Veterans Pod “recidivated” according to Henderson, while far more former inmates have returned to the unit as counselors to help inmates with their transition back into society after incarceration.
- The Sheriff’s Office is particularly excited about the Active Shooter Response Plan that Sheriff Henderson, the Chief of the Conroe ISD Police, the Chief of the Conroe Police Department, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon, the Montgomery County Hospital District, local fire departments, Republican Nominee for State Representative Steve Toth, and others are coordinating. Toth proposed the plan after the Parkland shooting in Florida and intends to start a statewide program for such Active Shooter Response Plans in all Texas communities.