The 2016 budget process has come and gone and once again there were plenty of talking points highlighted. First, I would like to thank the commissioner’s court for approving protective plate carriers and helmets for sheriff’s deputies and constable deputies alike. I’d also like to thank the court for formally recognizing the fact that we have a compression problem and employees have lagged behind over theyears. I want to highlight a special thank you to Commissioners Susan Fletcher, Duncan Webb, and Chris Hill for voting to protect ALL county law enforcement during the workshop session by voting yes for the vests and helmets. Notice I didn’t thank the court in its entirety.
Listen, I understand the commissioner’s court is in the business of protecting citizen’s tax money and constructing a budget to run the county’s operations. Considering the fact Collin County has a 300+ million budget I get that can be a daunting task. What I don’t get is why select members of the court try to run county offices that already have an elected official through the budget process. As a citizen it frustrates me because like you I vote to have subject matter experts run their individual offices. Why are we all wasting our time going to the polls and placing votes for law enforcement experts when the commissioner’s court is simply going to try and disregard our vote anyway? Obviously, the elected official remains in office, however it pains me to see members of the court that have never and will never be law enforcement officers try to control the offices and actions of law enforcement through budget. There were multiple conversations during the workshop that absolutely boggled my mind with suggestions and comments regarding our law enforcement.
When discussing the protective vests for deputy constables Judge Self suggested they “camouflage” themselves with unmarked cars. By doing so they would no longer need the requested protective gear. Really? The vehicles being marked have absolutely no bearing on the need for protective equipment for law enforcement officers sworn to protect the public. The protective gear requested will not be utilized on a day to day basis, but in specific circumstances during critical incidents where rifles are being used to injure or kill people. To suggest that deputies from either the Sheriff’s Office or Constable’s Office would not respond to a critical incident because they are in unmarked cars, therefore don’t have a need for protective equipment is preposterous. When considering this suggestion is coming from a retired member of the U.S. Army and purports himself to have been an Infantry and Special Forces officer is even more ludicrous. Judge Self has the background to know full well that men and women engaged in combat need protective equipment regardless of the vehicle they arrived to the fight in. In a word, ridiculous.
Commissioner Cheryl Williams continued the confusing comments by suggesting that the approval of this protective equipment is somehow “up arming” deputy constables. Up arming? The fact an intelligent individual like Commissioner Williams believes issuing a protective vest and helmet is “arming” a deputy defies logic. To my knowledge I’ve never heard of a law enforcement officer using a vest or helmet to injure or kill anyone in the course of their duties.
The larger issue here is; one, why do some members of the court wish to “hide” county law enforcement officers from the public? Two, why is the commissioner’s court attempting to undermine the voting public by telling the elected officials what law enforcement functions they want them to perform?
The Attorney General and Texas state law are pretty clear on what functions the Sheriff and Constable are allowed to perform. It also states the commissioner’s court can’t impede on those duties, so why are select members still trying? State law and the AG recognize the Sheriff and Constables as sworn peace officers and that responsibility comes with some statutory duties, i.e. warrantless arrests, suppression of crime, etc. The AG also opines that law enforcement duties must not interfere with the mandated duties of civil/criminal process and Justice of the Peace bailiff. In Collin County that is not a problem as the workload is handled by each Constable’s Office without fail, therefore when deputies are called upon or viewing a crime there is no issue with them handling the situation. The Sheriff’s Office and each Constable’s Office is a huge asset to the citizens of Collin County, so why not let them perform their duties?
In the mindset of asset let’s keep in mind that regardless of where you live in Collin County you have paid for county assets through your taxes. When you see a deputy sheriff or deputy constable driving around the county you have paid for their services. As such you should demand that they perform their duties as peace officers regardless of their location. If they observe a reckless or dangerous action by someone on the road you as a citizen should demand they stop the unsafe action. You paid for that asset. If you have just been victimized by someone else and you observe a deputy sheriff or deputy constable you should wave them down for assistance. You paid for that asset. You should also demand that the court protects the county’s assets with proper equipment to perform the duties all deputies are required to perform. Whether that is in a patrol function, civil function, warrant service function, traffic enforcement function, court security function, jail function, etc. All of these are functions of law enforcement run by law enforcement officers elected by the citizens of this county.
As a citizen you should be outraged that Judge Self and Commissioner Williams actually voted “no” to issuing protective equipment for deputy constables. As a citizen you should be outraged Judge Self doesn’t want to issue protective equipment to sheriff’s deputies assigned to the mental health division. You should be outraged because these two don’t value the lives of these deputies enough to protect them with a “yes” vote.
Remember we mentioned this equipment is not used on a daily basis? Why does it matter where these deputies are assigned then? In a critical incident everyone goes. What patch or badge you have on means nothing to us or for that matter you. When people you love are being killed by evil criminals are you really going to care what patch a deputy has on his shoulder? Will you care if the deputy is assigned to patrol, mental health, or civil division? Right, I didn’t think you would. Why does the commissioners court?
In the event you want to see these conversations visit:
Conversation about “camouflaging” starts at the 6:12 mark. There are conversations about vehicle markings, etc. at 10:45, 15:13, and the vote “no” starts at the 17:40 mark.