Photo Exhibit Shows History Of Harris County Sheriff's Department

deputies before uniforms
Harris County Sheriff's deputies before uniforms were worn in the 1930s

 

 

 

 

 

John W. Moore wore many hats when he was sworn in as the first sheriff of what was then Harrisburg County in 1837. He served on the Board of Commissioners for Roads and Revenues, later named Commissioner's Court, as well as Alderman, City Marshal & Tax Collector.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia says when it came to law enforcement, Moore was the man:

"Back in the day, they didn't have to deal with overcrowding, because mainly it was a one cell jail, and because the sheriff was also the hangman of the county. I think he watched overcrowding pretty carefully, and had remedial abilities to deal with any overcrowding that may be in the horizon."

Garcia helped open a photo exhibit at the central library downtown, commemorating 175 years of the law enforcement agency. Senior Deputy Doug Hudson was one of the department's historians who helped put the exhibit together.

"If you look back at these older pictures, you wonder how law enforcement coped with crime back in those days, how they did cope with crime. The sheriff mentioned the medial methods of law enforcement, and court system back in the early days until now, it's just quite a change."

Capt Debra Schmidt
Harris County Sheriff's Captain Debra Schmidt points to her picture in photo exhibit

Sheriff's Capt Debra Schmidt helped Hudson in compiling, identifying and cataloging the photos on display. She's also featured in the exhibit as a member of the Sheriff Dept's Dive Team.

She's seen holding a weapon she found in Cypress Creek that was used in a murder trial in the late '90s.

"That was a weapon used by Charles Victor Thompson. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, and that weapon helped convict him. Several years later, Charles Victor Thompson was back at the Harris County Jail on a bench warrant from the TDC. And while back on appeal, he managed to escape from the Harris County Jail."

Schmidt says the man was located three days later and eventually sent back to death row.

In short, the exhibit captures significant milestones in the history of the department. A history that Sheriff Adrian Garcia, the 28th sheriff and the first Latino elected to the largest sheriff's office in Texas, says will continue to be written.

"It's been an incredible transformation of 175 years, that I think has really set an incredible standard for other sheriff's office and other law enforcement organizations around the state as well as around the country, and I bet even around the world. And so, I'm just proud to be part of the history."

iron bullet proof vest
Harris County Sheriff Thomas Binford (1919-1936) wearing a bullet proof vest made of iron

The exhibit will be on display at the central library through mid-July.

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