It has been a very busy spring this year. Lots going on with family and friends, but I haven’t forgotten about Inside Milam County. While I started this blog as resource to present views of what goes on in Milam County there may be times that I ramble off into other areas that might not be Milam County, but will affect those of us that live here. This will not be one of those rambling blogs.
Kudos to the Milam County Sheriff's Department. I do not believe that they get near enough credit for the excellent job that they do. While most of us work a forty hour week in fairly safe conditions those that serve put their lives on the line 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It has not been too long ago when Milam County did not have officers on 24 hour patrol.
When I came to Milam County in 1969 I think there was the Sheriff one maybe two deputies and the constables. That was it. Vernie Miller used to patrol my county road. Mostly on Sunday out for an afternoon drive, but it was what it was.
Times have changed and technology has allowed great advancements in law enforcement. When I stated that law enforcement was 24 – 7, I meant it. Not only do we have real people on patrol there is also technology out there that is on patrol. Grants that were obtained during my tenure allowed Sheriff Greene to purchase equipment that is on the job 24 hours a day seven days a week 365 days a year.
You have heard of the reality show Bait Car, well believe me there is similar technology out there that is working for Milam County. Let it be enough said that if it is not yours don't pick it up.
I attended Commissioners Court Monday, (4/14), and heard Dave's view of the county's financial situation. Not bad, but not great. One of the things that he was quick to point out was the drop in county traffic fine revenue. But I have to give him credit he also said that it could be the result of reduced personnel at the Sheriff's Department. The Milam County Sheriff's Department is currently short two regular patrol deputies and two jail deputies.
Looks like we may be reviving the Milam County Sheriff's Law Enforcement Training Academy. All kidding aside that is what we have when we spend thousands training deputies and jailers and then lose them because they can go to one of our local city departments or nearby county departments and make a living wage.
The last county pay raise for most county employees was in 2009. Judge Barkemeyer has singled out a few individuals during his term to give small raises to based on his Ten County Survey, that's another blog, and another story. Point is gas was $3.55 in Cameron today, beef the highest price ever, and name something that has not increased in price since 2009. Not enough deputies to cover patrol and traffic too, so traffic fines decrease.
The real issue is that since there have been no pay raises and county law enforcement salaries are so low the Sheriff can't hire anyone. He has been looking for some time now to fill the positions. Consider the fact that a local city police chief makes 69,000 and our Milam County Sheriff who takes care of the entire county only makes 60,000, and you can see the inequities. City police officers also make more than most of our deputy positions.
The Judge mentioned something today in court about looking at raises this year for county employees. It's not rocket science to make the connection that if you do not have traffic deputies working traffic fines will decrease. Also does not take much brain power to figure out that if you do not have the jail personnel to handle out of county prisoners you lose more revenue.
It is time the Commissioners Court stepped up to the plate and gave our local county law enforcement a pay increase they deserve. If they don't it will be just a matter of time before 24-7 patrol is a thing of the past and we go back to the good old days. Vernie, could be we are going to miss you.