Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says in the three years that he's been at the helm, he has managed to bring overspending in the department under control and is now in the position to put more boots on the ground.
"I brought executives in from the business world and told them that it was irresponsible to let anyone allow this to happen, and challenged them to fix it and bring it under control and they did. For the first time in six years, the Harris County Sheriff's Office has spent less than the budget amount. We are $2.8 million dollars under budget."
At a press conference outside the Sheriff's Department substation in Tomball, Garcia says a new budget will enable him to move 100 deputies from jail duties and replace them with civilian employees.
"Of those hundred, our goal is to send specifically 60 to patrol. The rest will become investigators, helping to cut into big case loads, others will join our bailiffs where they keep judges, juries and the citizens safe, so that we don't have the kind of situation that we had that recently occured in Beaumont, Texas."
That was when a 41-year-old man allegedly killed a family member and wounded four others outside a Jefferson County courthouse about 2 weeks ago. Garcia says significant savings came as a result of substituting name-brand medication with generic for inmates, reducing the hours of visitation and adjusting the amount of overtime.
"Those are just some of the areas that we have looked to try to save the citizens their money, keep their money just as safe as we're trying to keep their communities safe."
I asked the sheriff why the department has been able to reverse the situation he inherited.
"I have no idea but, when you look at the two years prior to my administration, $72 million dollars had been spent on overtime without a hiring freeze. $72 million dollars had been wasted without a hiring freeze. So I have no idea, but I'm just proud of the work that my adiministration has done."
Garcia is up for re-election later this year. More information about openings in the Harris County Sheriff's Department can be found at www.hcsojobs.com.