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Fort Bend County, At Large
By Cheryl Skinner

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.

How do you misplace 20 computers, 34 radios and 4 vehicles? - Ask the sheriff

There is most likely a logical explanation for why the missing parts list that will be discussed by commissioner’s court this week has an abundance of county property that is supposedly unaccounted for.

In the past, County Auditor Ed Sturdivant said the process of removing missing items from the county’s list is simply that ... a cleanup of items that were not reported when thrown in the trash or sold through public auction. A couple of items, say a broken printer or obsolete equipment sold at auction would be understandable.

However, when the pending list came out last week, several sets of eyebrows were raised and naturally several sets of the pending list were sent to the newspaper with the overriding question of “how in the world can Milton Wright (aka the Sheriff) lose so many items, including four vehicles?”

Yep, four of the items are vehicles and with the sheriff always wanting more cars it is hard to believe these have been misplaced (?). I mean how in the heck do you misplace three full-size Crown Victoria’s complete with police packages installed? Two of these were listed as 2002 and the other a 2005. The other vehicles listed are a 2001 Dodge RAM and a 2004 Ford Expedition.

And guess what every item on the missing list says as to why these items have not been accounted for? You just aren’t going to believe this: “Unable to dedicate time to locate these assets.”

So, there are four full size missing automobiles, 3 printers, a copier, a projector, a security camera and security viewing station and about a dozen items listed that must be support parts for other pieces of equipment no longer utilized at the sheriff’s office. But it gets better. There are also 20 computers, both laptop and desk models; 34 handheld portable radios; five digital cameras, one pager and 8 Tasers.

You got it — there are eight little gizmos out there somewhere that provides a shock to the recipient. Let’s just “play like” all of these items, with the exception of one or two, were obsolete and destroyed or were possibly sold at the county auction as is most likely the case with some of the computers.

Maybe some of the items were leased and returned without proper documenting paperwork—that is one of the explanations Sturdivant mentioned when this issue came up sometime last year. But what if one of the Tasers was left on a bench outside the courthouse or one of the handheld radios was dropped out of a county vehicle for one reason or another. There could be a fine upstanding citizen that found these gadgets and now has the ability to listen to police radio traffic or if they are one of LeaAnne’s stupid criminals, they could even talk to the cops. And, what about the Taser falling into hands that wants to dip into the local convenience store cash register?

At any rate, no matter what the excuse is for the items being on the scratch it off the record list, it seems that someone should be held accountable for keeping tabs on any county equipment—especially items that are unique to law enforcement.

I still can’t fathom how in the world anyone can lose four full size vehicles. For heaven’s sake ... is that ridiculous or what?


Contact skinnerc1@tconline.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  September 27, 2007