Guidry discusses plans for Waller County Sheriff’s Office

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 11/13/20

Republican Troy Guidry defeated Democrat Cedric Watson in the race for Waller County Sheriff during the Nov. 3 elections with 14,506 votes to Watson’s 7,376. His plans for the Waller County …

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Guidry discusses plans for Waller County Sheriff’s Office

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Republican Troy Guidry defeated Democrat Cedric Watson in the race for Waller County Sheriff during the Nov. 3 elections with 14,506 votes to Watson’s 7,376. His plans for the Waller County Sheriff’s Office include a focus on community policing and more efficient uses of resources to modernize the department, he said.

“It’s not going to be just, ‘I’m your leader and we’re running this,’” Guidry said. “I have a (leadership) team whose coming in.”

Guidry said he intends to improve the department by adjusting staffing, updating and solidifying policies and procedures as well as setting up a command staff to ensure operations run smoothly.

The first priority Guidry has is to get the right staff in place starting by installing two chief deputies – one for the jail and court system and another for the patrol division. With that, he said he would empower those two officers to hire their own staff in accordance with guidelines set for officers within the WCSO.

“These two guys are responsible for hiring the guys that are going to be underneath them, so it will be a structured command staff you have to follow within this agency,” Guidry said.

As part of that hiring process, Guidry said he intends to standardize pay grades and the requirements for each rank in the department to ensure fairness and equity among employees. He said that doing so was essential for attracting and retaining staff in Waller County when it is surrounded by competitive departments, from a career perspective, throughout neighboring counties that can afford to pay their officers more.

Guidry said he plans to work to increase salaries in the department to make the department more attractive, without having to increase his budget.

“I think we should actually be a little under budget making the changes we’ll make (to staffing),” Guidry said. “We’ll be able to push salaries to a certain point to start that structure.”

One key element in Guidry’s plan to develop the department is to bring reserve deputies onto the team at WCSO. A reserve deputy is a volunteer, often a retired law enforcement officer, who patrols or performs other supplementary work to assist a law enforcement agency. WCSO currently has 55 approved reserve position but only 33 are currently filled, he said. By adjusting paid staff through a restructuring and adding reserve deputies, Guidry says he expects to improve law enforcement services to Waller County while saving taxpayers money.

“I can bring in a reserve guy who works for free and shows up on his own time because he loves doing it,” Guidry said.

These volunteer deputies will be assigned not only as patrol deputies, but as experienced officers to assist in specific areas like investigating robberies, assaults or aiding a crime scene investigator – another position Guidry said he wants to fill.

Guidry said adding a crime scene investigator will help the department make headway against certain trends Waller County is seeing when it comes to crimes such as construction site burglaries.

Another priority will be intervention in the county’s drug problem. Rural areas such as Waller County that are near urban centers such as Houston see drug manufacturing and traffic, and Guidry said he has plans to deal with the problem.

“We have interdiction of narcotics,” Guidry said. “We’ll be brining that to the county. We have two major thoroughfares through, (Highway) 290 and I-10.”

Guidry said he would work to obtain grants and improve partnerships with appropriate agencies to address the issue efficiently, but he would also utilize tools already at the WCSO such as K-9 officers and community policing skills.

“We also have a (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) sting that we’re going to begin for selling underage kids tobacco and alcohol,” Guidry said. “And this is all going to be done through our reserves so it won’t cost us money.”

Still, while Guidry discussed strong policy and procedural changes, discipline and tough enforcement in regards to drugs, he emphasized that the main goal was to develop community-based policing by developing relationships with county residents, not by WCSO being a hardnosed law enforcement agency.

Minor infractions such as driving infractions or marijuana use will likely see warnings or simple fines rather than arrests, Guidry said. Generally, he said, it’s more expensive to arrest and prosecute those cases than to fine someone and let them help pay for enforcing the law against more serious infractions while keeping deputies free to patrol for more serious infractions.

Guidry said that building trust with the community and helping them avoid breaking the law or come into compliance with the law is more useful for the community and helps county residents make a difference themselves in reducing crime, simply by talking to law enforcement.

“If we teach these deputies to go and talk to residents if they see them out mending fence or weed eating, I guarantee you that guy knows more about what’s going on within two miles than (a deputy will) ever know just driving around looking,” Guidry said.

In regards to his elected predecessor, the late Sheriff R. Glenn Smith, Guidry said he would like to ensure that Smith and all of the officers that have served Waller County over the years are honored at the county’s new justice center, where he hopes to set up a wall displaying artifacts and information about the department’s past. Until now, there has been a collection of some items, but he’d like to expand that, he said.

“If families (of fallen Waller County officers) want to donate more guns, badges, IDs or whatever, if we can get ahold of those families and they still have some of that stuff and they want to donate it to the sheriff’s department to be put in (the display) and be showcased – then that’s what we’re going to look to do for that.”

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