Training for more deputies on patrol
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A plan to put more "boots on the ground" in Harris County is finally coming to fruition. Dozens of Harris County Sheriff's deputies who used to work in the jail are now ready to walk a beat, thanks to some special re-training.
The Harris Co. Sheriff's Office invited us to get an up-close look at just how the jail deputies are transitioning back to street patrol.
This is an election year. And Sheriff Adrian Garcia told me the transition is not about politics. He says it's about increasing visibility and cutting crime.
Burglary victim Fabiola Rocha recalled, "They just broke the windows, and they tried to steal my register."
Workers at All Paints say they know about crime first-hand. Their shop in north Harris County was recently hit by burglars. They agreed all of Houston needs more security.
That need for an increased presence is partly why 25 Harris County deputies who'd spent years working in the jail are back in class, now training to tackle street patrol.
Major Ronnie Silvio with the HCSO Patrol Bureau said, "We're down approximately 250 patrolmen over the past two and a half years. Now being able to get people on the street we feel is going to help us go from a reactive response to crime, to a proactive response."
This training and transition is part of Sheriff Garcia's push to get a large number of deputies back on the street, while hiring more than 200 civilian officers to take their places in the jail. It's part of a plan the sheriff announced back in March due to a lifted hiring freeze and coming in $3 million under budget.
"We've had 16 sucessfully deployed," Sheriff Garcia said. "We've got 25 in cue right now that are completing the training. That'll get us to 41. And we've got three more classes planned to redeploy folks out into the field."
These deputies must go through a rigorous 20 week training before they can fully work patrol beats.
"They'll spend about six weeks in the classroom doing different scenarios such as officer safety, shoot, don't shoot, traffic stops," Major Silvio said.
The remaining weeks will be spent in patrol cars in field training.
The workers at All Paints say they look forward to seeing more deputies on patrol.
Right now about 575 deputies are patrol. The sheriff says he hopes to have an additional 100 deputies back on patrol by the end of the year.
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