WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office will continue receiving surplus gear from the Department of Defense.
Williamson County Commissioners voted Tuesday to reinstate a contract with the department and equipment includes scopes, lasers and night vision goggles. These were all expected to be shipped back to the department this week after Commissioners denied an agreement in July.
Months later, under a rare occurrence, the agenda item was brought back to the table in an effort to quickly secure the items before the return deadline.
“I would like to first explain why we are back here,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell during a Tuesday meeting. “We traditionally do not place items back on the agenda again, however, last week I was approached by deputies and Commissioner Boles.”
The agenda item was initially added to the court’s agenda back in June, but it was pulled due to raised concerns regarding maintenance cost and the overall need. The contract was again added to the July 21 agenda, but denied.
This program is known as the Law Enforcement Support Program and commonly referred to as the “LESO Program” or “1033 Program.”
During an Oct. 27 meeting WCSO deputies made the case as to why the equipment was needed suggesting it helps supplement similar county owned equipment.
“Trust that we are doing the right thing. We are not asking for armored vehicles, we are not asking for helicopters or planes,” said Lt. Mark Luera, with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Association. “These are the bare minimums. The bare minimum to work out in the field and be effective. Protect the citizens and protect ourselves. This program started a long time ago.”
During the Oct. 27 meeting, several commissioners argued that a lack of communication with the Sheriff’s Office is the reason the item was initially denied.
“I’m disappointed that we’re talking about it again — in almost November — when it was voted down in July,” said Commissioner Valerie Covey. “We could have taken care of this issue a long time ago. I would like you to know, deputies, that you can always contact my office too. To let me know if I need some more information to help me.”
Commissioner Terry Cook told the deputies at the meeting that she and her fellow commissioners want WCSO to have the equipment they need to defend citizens, but equipment that’s also affordable to the county.
“Using military stuff already paid for, that’s a good thing, but we just need information. It’s cheap for you guys to give us information.”
Lt. Luera added that it’s possible Sheriff Robert Chody did not show up to court back in July due to the continued “hostile” relationship between he and commissioners.
“In his defense, I wouldn’t want to show up if I was being sued by commissioner’s court. I wouldn’t want to respond if I felt nothing but hostility,” said Lt. Luera to Williamson County Commissioners. “We are here to prevent that….. We are here to be the middleman.”
After a long back and fourth conversation regarding transparency, commissioners voted to unanimously approve the agreement under one condition: that inventory is reported accurately and annually.
Williamson County Lt. Luera agreed to the inventory request.