TOMBALL- Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia announced today that he will beef up the county’s crime-fighting force by about 100 deputies now that he and staff have balanced the Sheriff’s Office budget for the first time in six years.
“We’re fighting to protect the community as well as your pocketbook,” he said at a news conference in Tomball at one of the Harris County Sheriffs Office’s five patrol substations in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The sheriff revealed the reversal of two troubling trends in local law enforcement. When he took office in 2009, the Sheriff inherited spending that was $56 million over the amount budgeted by Commissioners Court. For the budget year that ended Feb. 29 of this year, spending was $2.8 million below the budgeted amount – a swing of almost $59 million a year.
“The budget was out of control,” Sheriff Garcia said. “I brought in executives from the business world and told them it was irresponsible to allow this to happen. I challenged them to fix it and they did.”
The savings of taxpayer money put the Sheriff’s Office in the position of being able to hire civilian detention officers to staff the county jail. As they are phased in, deputy positions now assigned to the jail will be re-deployed – 60 to patrol and about 40 to crime investigations and protection of courts.
A county-wide hiring freeze had blocked the Sheriff’s Office from filling vacancies since October 2009. While the crime fighting force continued to decline, the unincorporated areas continued to grow in population, along with calls for service. Yet the Sheriff’s Office was able to keep the lid on crime and emergency response times while waiting for reinforcements.
“The hiring freeze is over,” the sheriff said. He continued, “Our budget controls have put us in a better position for the future. I will make sure we hold the line on crime.With 60 patrol deputies, they’ll be seeing continued response to crimes, they’ll see a continued control on response times to life-threatening calls, which has remained unchanged and I’m proud of these guys because they have been really working hard to respond to those life-threatening calls, those priority one calls, really at their own safety.”
Sheriff Garcia thanks Commissioners Court for providing a budget for the new fiscal year that will finally allow the HCSO to replace personnel who retire, resign or are dismissed. He also thanked crime-fighting deputies who have worked under trying conditions. These new hires will help offset the attrition rate at the Harris Co. Sheriff’s Office as the organization loses about 20 people a month. The sheriff also added that the “new hires will not bring his organization anywhere near the national average.”
Sheriff Garcia urged those interested in applying for detention officer openings to contact the Sheriff’s Office. Job information is available at www.hcsojobs.com.