Willacy Co. Sheriff: Low Budget Leads to Backlog of Cases
RAYMONDVILLE – Willacy County’s top cop said his deputies are nearing their breaking point. He said his budget has not increased in several years and the work is piling up.
Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said things are getting difficult at his department.
“We’re still on top of things, but we’re treading water,” he said.
The sheriff said his deputies are overwhelmed. They’re not just patrolling the streets and responding to calls for help, they’re also transporting inmates to and from court, watching over them 24/7 while at hospitals and helping with investigations.
Spence said due to medical reasons, the department is down to just one investigator.
“He’s got about 40 cases pending that he’s working on trying to wrap up, follow up on different leads, get statements in and all the things that need to be done,” he said.
Spence said he’d like to get back the four positions he lost when the immigration detention center closed down in 2015.
He said while there are many grants out there to help with equipment and overtime, there’s not many that help pay for manpower.
Spence said not having enough people creates a snowball of problems.
“If you’ve only got so many personnel, you know, they can only work so much overtime before they wear themselves out. Then they are not available for the regular shift because they’re too tired,” said Spence.
Willacy County Judge Aurelio Guerra said right now, there is no budget to expand in any department.
He said commissioners had to go back to functioning as they did before the immigration detention center boosted their revenues.
“One of the things that we came up with, and it’s worked pretty well, is to acknowledge how may position were available in 2008 and still be able to have the county function,” he said.
Guerra said the county tries to accommodate the sheriff’s department with the sheriff’s requests as best as they can. Repairs at the 1,000-bed immigration detention center have already been completed, he said, and its owner, MTC, is now working to finalize a contract to occupy it with inmates.
“Now, we’re able to put them on our tax-base and that will help the county as well as the city,” he said.
The county judge said the county is trying to improve morale for employees. He said county commissioners will be rewarding employees with $60 for each year they have worked for the county at the end of this year.
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