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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.


 
The cops vs. cops thing

Almost everyone who deals with Sheriff Milton Wright says he doesn’t like constables. He denies this—to an extent—and says he simply doesn’t like for the constable’s to do police work. Their job, he feels, is to serve civil papers and unless they are driving along and accidentally come across a crime, should not do regular policing. “I’ve said since day one constable’s should leave the policing to me and should serve papers—that is what they are supposed to do,” Wright said in a recent interview.

Adding fuel to the fire is the rumor that Wright is handpicking several opponents to take down the existing constables—in the political arena, that is. So, if he doesn’t like the position, is that going to make a hand-chosen elected official any more tolerable or more of a cop or what? Who knows.

Wright pulled out of the Fort Bend Toll Road Authority contract as soon as he learned the FBTRA was going to let the constable’s department in Precinct 4 take over the contract in the forthcoming fiscal year. Wright says he pulled out to protect his deputies, who might miss out on one of the job openings he currently has and basically be out on the street come Oct. 1. Some of Wright’s less than ardent supporters think it was just sour grapes and a long-standing feeling of animosity towards the constables that prompted Wright to leave the FBTRA high and dry a couple of months before the end of the contract. Others say it was unprofessional. Wright says it is no big deal and the contract was flexible enough to allow it.

Then, last week Wright threw a kink in the kilter of Cinco Ranch’s plan to switch from the sheriff’s office to Precinct 3 Constable Rob Cook for that subdivision’s contract deputies. I’m sure it is a temporary kink, but a kink nonetheless. Wright says he read an Attorney General’s opinion to say the “Sheriff may” do this, that or the other in regards to contract security and since it doesn’t say “constable may”—maybe they can’t. And, he says his deputies working the Cinco Ranch contract were motorcycle deputies that supply their own motorcycles and gasoline and were compensated at a rate of $60 an hour. He says he was told by a person on the Cinco Ranch board that Constable Cook came in with an offer of doing the job at $50 an hour and, if that is the case, is not only undercutting Sheriff Wright but could be stiffing the homeowners. The standard rate for a contract deputy is $25 an hour. So, if the new contract with Cook calls for $50 an hour and those deputies are driving a county car and using county gas, something is amiss, he says.

Cook was moving to another office location and couldn’t be reached for comment on what the actual contract might call for. What really matters, though, is the seeming turf war that has been going on here in Fort Bend County for so many years.

I don’t know about you, but I see a cop and I feel better knowing they are looking out for my welfare and protecting me from the growing criminal element in this county. I honestly don’t pay a whole lot of attention to what color uniform they are wearing or if they are a county sheriff’s deputy, a city police officer, or a deputy constable. I see badge, gun, uniform, marked car and think “good guy” looking out for me.

I really wish the Sheriff had the same attitude—those guys attend the same schools, are required to have the same training (and more) and they bleed the same color. Contrary to what Milton would have you believe—they are real cops.

Turf wars are for punks—not professionals.

 

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 19, 2007