Waller County Sheriff runoff election Q&A: Guidry and Smith face off in runoff

By R. Hans Miller | Times Senior Reporter
Posted 6/28/20

Incumbent Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith and Troy Guidry will be facing one another in a runoff election on July 14 after neither secured 50% of the vote during elections late last year to …

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Waller County Sheriff runoff election Q&A: Guidry and Smith face off in runoff

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Incumbent Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith and Troy Guidry will be facing one another in a runoff election on July 14 after neither secured 50% of the vote during elections late last year to secure the Republican nomination for the job. Each candidate offers decades of experience in law enforcement. Early voting begins June 29 and Election Day is July 14.

Smith has served in Waller County as an officer for about 18 years with a total of 41 years in law enforcement. He has held leadership positions for 25 years of his career. His work includes ten years in narcotics enforcement. Smith is married to his wife, Deedee who is a realtor and has a son and daughter and two grandchildren.

Guidry has been in law enforcement for 29 years since joining the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in 1992. He has worked in K9, mounted and emergency response teams and has experience as a law enforcement instructor, including training Drug Enforcement Agency officers. Troy is married to his wife, Linde whom he resides with in Waller County.

Winner of the runoff will face Cedric Watson, the Democratic candidate, in November.

“Katy Times” asked the following questions of each candidate with the same deadlines and word count restrictions for each of them. Both were met. The responses below have been lightly edited to fit in the space available. Responses are listed in alphabetical order by candidate’s last name.

Q: In light of recent nationwide protests and concerns about policing, what will you do as sheriff to ensure a culture in the Waller County Sheriff’s Office that promotes unbiased polcing?

Guidry: … As the Waller County Sheriff, I will emphasize training for deputies including implicit bias, cultural awareness/diversity, ethics, mental health, civil disturbance and riot control as well as de-escalation of force. I plan to ensure command staff represents Waller County’s demographics. All employees will have equal opportunities to promote or transfer. All use of force incidents will be meticulously reviewed in an expeditious manner. Training will be mandated if the review deems it necessary.

My plan is to increase the competency of supervisors through training programs such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy, The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and other nationally recognized training programs. Many programs are free to the agency and considered the best of the best in law enforcement training. I will take full advantage of these resources. My goal is to construct a supervisory team that can recognize behavioral changes with personnel and intervene when appropriate.

Smith: I have already established a culture in the Sheriff’s Office that promotes the integrity of policing for all by making sure we absolutely have no discrimination in our hiring process and always make sure our employees are “color blind” when it comes to the treatment of people. Nothing about our duties and responsibilities should have bias of any kind. We will continue to educate through specific topic training and oversight to see that policing is done right. It must always be mandated  that everyone be treated the same - with courtesy, fairness and respect.

Education that includes specific topics and supervision that understands its role are key to creating that culture.

Q: What will your policies be regarding priorities for how the WCSO’s budget it spent?

Guidry: I have experience in working with a commissioners court and fully understand the need to maintain and work within an approved budget. As an elected official in charge of one of the largest budgets in the county, it is imperative to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ money. Priority will be given to those areas where there is oversight such as the jail and the patrol division to ensure there are no deficiencies. I plan to conduct an efficiency study to review the department’s chain of command structure to verify if it should be streamlined. I also plan to conduct an independent salary study of comparable Texas counties to correct any pay disparity issues for deputies and supervisors. I will ensure technology is available to all and used to its fullest capacity all the while optimizing the equipment such as body-worn cameras and in-car digital storage.

Smith: The WCSO budget is established by the county judge and then approved by the commissioners court. Numerous line items are established so the budget can be as detailed as possible and monies spent accordingly. My priorities have always been to provide staff with as much pay, equipment and technology that we can afford to create an environment that makes the job efficient and timely. Obviously, all of us would love to have more employees and as much money as possible to purchase what we need; however, we all pay taxes and have to work within a realistic budget. I reevaluate annually and keep my obvious priority the protection of life and property in Waller County.

Q: What sorts of community outreach programs for the WCSO do you support maintaining and/or implementing?

Guidry: Community relations with all agency personnel should be a major priority. Community outreach programs such as proactive patrolling, crime prevention, town-hall meetings, etc. to engage the public are paramount. Positive interaction between WCSO employees and the Waller residents will build trust and mend strained relationships that have been the norm the past few years. Other community outreach programs that I would like to explore as sheriff include Kids and Cops, Coffee with a Cop, Mental Health/Crisis Intervention and a Citizens Police Academy. I also want the inclusion of citizens to participate in promotional assessment boards and offer potential volunteer positions to interns or college students. We must open the doors to those interested in law enforcement as a career. They are our future. As we evolve further in technology, my desire is to provide the citizens of Waller County with an active social media platform as a tool for the immediate dissemination of information.

Smith: Since serving as Sheriff in Waller County, we have participated in numerous outreach programs such as neighborhood watch, close patrol, sponsorship of youth sports, conducted citizens police academies and recently conducted a delivery service for homebound during the current COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to create a full time position in order to spend more time in community programs that would also assist with maintaining the culture that promotes integrity of policing.

Q: What will you do to ensure that you retain quality officers on the force?

Guidry: As stated above, training will be a major priority. I want to ensure that Sheriff’s Office employees have up to date certifications specific to their job descriptions. Retention and recruitment are definitely areas of concern. During the aforementioned independent study, salaries will be looked at closely. To retain and recruit quality employees, salaries must be competitive. Obviously, budget constraints will play a very important role in making this a reality. I also plan to reform the Reserve Division and utilize those members as intended...to supplement full-time operations. Members of the Reserves will be required to attend the same training and possess the same certifications as their full-time counterparts. They will be managed and led by competent supervisors. My desire is to build the Waller County Sheriff’s Office into a premier law enforcement agency where employees are happy and want to come to work. Happy employees are productive employees. This happiness will resonate during interactions with the public, thus improving relations between the two.

Smith: As Sheriff, I have to continue working with Commissioners Court to keep a pay scale that is competitive with our larger neighbors and keep an environment inside the WCSO that makes a person want to come to work and enjoy their job. That happy employee will do a better job for our citizens along with being a person that other employees want to be around. We need to keep employees so they and the public are familiar with each other. We need to make sure they receive the best training, equipment, and pay for education advancements so quality officers are built and stay.

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