GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — The Williamson County Deputies Association accused county commissioners of inaction that’s led to understaffing in the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. The WCDA also said the WCSO does not have adequate manpower to keep up with the rapidly growing population.
Deputy Charles Duvall, president of the WCDA, addressed a small crowd on the steps of the historic county courthouse, flanked by Sheriff Mike Gleason, WCSO detectives and other WCDA affiliates.
Duvall said national data from the FBI found county agencies reported an average of 2.8 officers per 1,000 inhabitants. He said Williamson County right now has .78 deputies per 1,000 residents, highlighting a large disparity between WCSO’s ranks and the national average.
“We need an additional 445 new deputies to meet the national average number of deputies. To be clear, there is only one opening on patrol and that opening is about to be filled,” Duvall said.
Duvall said the WCDA is now considering asking for Gov. Greg Abbott to step in if the county does not meet its demand for adding at least 20 more deputies next year.
“Without full funding, Williamson County can only be saved by Gov. Greg Abbott by sending troopers from DPS to our aid,” Duvall said.
Gleason said his limited force has been stretched thin due to interlocal agreements the office has with cities throughout the county. Duvall said on any given night, there could be just two deputies that respond to calls in Round Rock, Georgetown and Cedar Park.
“The City of Austin [police] dominates Travis County. [County] resources are not needed because the City of Austin dominates. There is not one city in Williamson County that dominates us. We are the dominating factor. Everybody relies on my swiftwater, my SWAT, my crisis intervention, my dive recovery team. We’re the default for every agency here,” Gleason said.
Deputies Association blames political infighting for fewer officers
These comments come as the Williamson County Commissioner’s Court approved adding an additional four deputy positions to the sheriff’s office at their meeting Tuesday morning.
The motion was made by Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey but notably comes one week after a similar proposal by Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook.
Cook’s proposed motion asked to add 11 deputies but died without a second at the commissioner court’s meeting last week.
Duvall said the difference in support comes down to political affiliation.
“Today, a Republican makes a motion for four deputies and has the full support of all the Republicans on the board. So you tell me if it’s politically motivated,” Duvall said.
Gleason said the county would need to add around 20 deputies to ease the current strain on WCSO.
County Judge responds to Deputies Association claims
County Judge Bill Gravell said he was surprised to hear the WCDA’s accusations and addressed them at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I do not support this measure because I will not be bullied into a decision by one person that calls a last-minute press conference,” Gravell said.
In a prepared statement, Gravell said the commissioner’s court has provided sufficient support to the sheriff’s office given the department’s service calls.
Much to my surprise, I read the press release from the Sheriff. As County Judge, I am disappointed that the year in which the Sheriff’s Office budget for law enforcement and corrections combined is increased $8,743,966, that he talks about Republicans not being willing to work with him. In the last three years, the corrections budget has increased 21.8% to $6.9 million. The law enforcement budget has increased 26.7% to $7.67 million for a combined budget of $14.6 million.
I have not had one conversation with the Williamson County Deputies Association about a staffing crisis. Since we have invested $5 million in salaries this year, the number of vacancies has greatly dropped to just two for law enforcement.
What I would like to know is why there is a staffing shortage when their calls for service have dropped. Since 2019, the number of calls placed in CAD has dropped 25%. The number of incident reports dropped 18%. The number of arrest reports declined 46%. The number of citations and warnings dropped 55%.
The truth is this commissioners court has worked tirelessly to provide the sheriff’s office with the resources they need to protect the residents of Williamson County.Judge Bill Gravell, Williamson County