What are the biggest challenges at this time for the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office?
Challenge is a good word to describe just about all aspects of life at the sheriff’s office as we draw a close to the last quarter of 2010. Obviously, we are facing the everyday challenge of preventing crime. In Cooke County, methamphetamine use is the fuel that feeds our crime problem. While the manufacture of meth locally has declined, the importation and use has not. Meth users don’t work, they steal. And they will steal anything and everything that is not nailed down. Even when it is nailed down, given enough time, a meth user will pry it up and steal it.
To combat this theft, we try to do as much preventive patrol as possible. But so often, the number of deputies on actual patrol is minuscule compared to the area that needs patrolling. Increase the number of patrol deputies? Sure, but remember, this takes money and that is our tax money that has to pay the bill. So our challenge here is to do the best we can with what we have. And we will.
Our investigators face the same challenge. Four investigators are carrying the case load of perhaps six investigators. Once again, more investigators? And once again, sure, but it is our tax money that has to pay for the addition of personnel. So until there is available funding for additional personnel, we are going to get the job done with what we have.
Define the geographical area that the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office covers, and the responsibilities of your office for that area?
The actual square mileage that Cooke County covers is a little in excess of 900 square miles.
The law enforcement responsibility for Cooke County is shared by several agencies, some with the same mission and others with a different primary mission. For example, the Gainesville Police Department handles any law enforcement function within the city limits of Gainesville, often times with the Cooke County Sheriff’s Deputies assisting. The reverse holds true for areas outside the city limits of Gainesville, where our deputies take the lead, and the city of Gainesville assists.
Another example of the differences is in accident investigation. The Texas Highway Patrol investigates all accidents unless they are in the jurisdiction of a city police department. Plus the troopers are always assisting both county and city in all types of situations.
Our sheriff’s office handles all law enforcement functions within Cooke County, except in those incorporated cities that have a police department. Incorporated cities are Gainesville, Lindsay, Muenster, Valley View and Oakridge. When these smaller cities don’t have an officer on duty, the sheriff’s office handles all calls that occur within these cities.
The sheriff’s office dispatches all calls for all of these incorporated cities except Gainesville. We are the default receiver for all wireless 911 calls within the county, regardless of the location. We also receive all residential phone 911 calls outside the city limits of Gainesville. We dispatch for all volunteer fire departments within Cooke County, and we also dispatch all ambulance calls within Cooke County.
The sheriff’s office operates the only jail in Cooke County. Every person taken into custody for any offense within Cooke County is booked into our jail and has a file maintained by the sheriff’s office.