Report: Harris County Should Consolidate Law Enforcement Duties

More than 60 law enforcement agencies operate inside Harris County.

This file photo shows a patrol car used by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Harris County could save large parts of its $127 million budget for county Constables by combining some of its police services, a new report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research has found.

More than 60 law enforcement agencies operate in Harris County. Together, they spend $1.6 billion dollars a year, according to the report. Often, those agencies are overlapping patrol services like area freeways which are under the control of more than 10 different agencies.  

Speaking to Houston Matters, Kinder Institute researcher Kyle Shelton said a part of the report’s recommendations is moving tollway patrol contracts from constables to the Harris County Sheriff.

“You could just simply say the sheriff is in charge of  highways and tollways outside of incorporated municipalities,” Shelton said.

The report points to other areas of overlap, like evidence and property rooms, training facilities, 911 response systems and unconnected databases as points the county could benefit from consolidating as well.

County Judge Ed Emmett declined to comment to News 88.7 on the report, though Emmett has previously supported consolidating parts of county government.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to more clearly reflect the potential savings for Harris County stated in the report. 


Davis Land

Senior Producer

Davis Land is a senior producer at Houston Public Media. He cut his teeth at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, MA and at WBUR in Boston. His work has appeared on various public radio programs and podcasts including Texas Standard, Here and Now, and Marketplace. Davis is a graduate...

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