Patrick criticizes Harris County vote restricting more law enforcement funding

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 2/23/22

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick criticized a recent Harris County Commissioners Court vote to approve a limited funding increase for law enforcement.

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Patrick criticizes Harris County vote restricting more law enforcement funding

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick criticized a recent Harris County Commissioners Court vote to approve a limited funding increase for law enforcement.

The court, in a 3-2 vote earlier this month, rejected a plan put forth by Harris County Pct. 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle and Pct. 3 Tom Ramsey, instead giving law enforcement agencies the more modest increase.

Patrick said in a statement that Cagle and Ramsey “offered budget amendments that would have provided funding for more officers. These recommendations came from the Harris County sheriff, constables, and district attorney. Additionally, this plan would have added 500 law enforcement positions.”

Patrick said the court's vote was a slap in the face to its citizens.

"Crime rates only continue to skyrocket in Harris County," Patrick said. "People are begging for safer streets, and our police officers have outlined the resources they need to combat this dangerous spike in crime, yet the county commissioners are turning a deaf ear."

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo disagreed.

“Don’t believe the hype of those who say we’re defunding the police,” Hidalgo said in a tweet. “They’re just grasping at straws. And we’re not just tough on crime, we’re getting smart with program that get to the root of gun violence.”

Cagle's precinct includes much of Katy. He spoke about the budget before a Feb. 15 Katy Area Economic Development Council meeting at the University of Houston-Victoria at Katy building, 22400 Grand Circle Blvd.

Cagle said he and Ramsey agreed that when “you hear someone say they want to be smarter, they’re about to say no to what your local law enforcement is asking for.”

Cagle said the county, by following best police practices from elsewhere, has seen the crime rate has gone up locally.

“By following Chicago's policies, we've now surpassed Chicago with the number of our murders,” Cagle said. “Go figure.”

Cagle said the two of the most sought-after changes were pay parity and more officers, a problem familiar to many local governments.

"It's harder to hire and retain employees because we pay less," Cagle said.

Cagle said the approach he favored was to look at the 2018 county budget as a baseline. This was the same year Hidalgo was elected, and Democrats took a 3-2 majority on the court.

Cagle said some departments have increased their funding, but those programs were not what the county should be doing.

“Tom Ramsey and I approached the same problem in two slightly different ways,” Cagle said. “Okay, Tom went through the budget and cut things that he saw that were clearly not necessarily core functions like county government should be doing.”

Cagle said based upon those cuts that Ramsey found, the county could afford the funding requests received. But Cagle admitted the plan wouldn’t have passed given the court’s makeup.

“We knew they would never vote for our proposition,” Cagle said, adding that he and Ramsey were prepared to show their colleagues what areas should be cut. He said the differences were a matter of perspective, and that he was looking at things from a taxpayer perspective.

“They’ve had to tighten their budgets,” Cagle said. “We should, too.”

Katy Area EDC, Harris County, Pct. 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle

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