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I’ll never know what it’s like to wake up, put on a uniform and badge, and go to work knowing that I’m putting my life on the line for others. But the least I can do, as someone who is in the middle of the longest job interview of my life, is to try to follow in the footsteps of a first responder for a day. I’ve done this before, with the Williamson County EMS, Mobile Outreach Team, and Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Round Rock Fire and Police Departments. I did it again today with the WilCo Sheriff’s Office.
I rode out with the Sergeant in charge of the patrol deputies east of I-35. We saw some of the damage caused by the March 21st tornado in the rural areas between Hutto and Granger. We saw the massive home developments underway outside of Jarrell. Since they are outside the city limits, these new residential areas will be under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction. This is to say nothing of the explosion of development happening outside the city limits near places like Liberty Hill, Leander, Round Rock, and Hutto. At the moment, this Sergeant only has four deputies available at any one time to cover the entire eastern half of the county.
Field training is also under the purview of this Sergeant. We toured the training center north of Hutto, and he explained to me how training has been reprioritized on firmer footing under the new administration with Sheriff Gleason.
I’ve ridden my motorcycle down nearly every county road, and I’ve met voters in every city and town in WilCo. And though I think I know the dimensions of the county pretty well, riding through it this morning gave me a new appreciation for the challenges facing our Sheriff’s Office. It’s not just that Williamson County is a large space, but this large space is quickly filling up with people–whether we like it or not. Our county government has not kept up with the pace of growth. Our Sheriff’s Office needs the resources necessary to compete with other local agencies to recruit, hire, train, and retain Williamson County’s finest.
And not only the SO, but it’s the challenge facing every facet of our county, from mental health services to advocacy for abused women and children to the courts and justice system. We have to be prepared to face the challenges of a growing county with robust and smart solutions, not the status quo.
One more thing: when I’m Williamson County Judge, I’ll pick up the phone when the Sheriff calls.
It turned out to be a fairly calm day for me with the Sergeant. I appreciate him allowing me to tag along, listen, and learn.
Thanks again to all our local first responders for all you do for our community.
[About the photo: I’m really bad at remembering to take photos, but I got this one. The Sergeant was a little hesitant because of the dirt, but I just told him it looks like it’s been working hard in east WilCo!]
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