By Gloria Roemer
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne presented his 2022 annual sheriff’s report to Commissioners Court last Tuesday, January 10, 2023.
The report reads: “This report contains information regarding the growth of Chambers County and the increase in workload of your dedicated law enforcement personnel. We hope that this report provides transparency in our day-to-day operations as well as the amount of calls for service, reports, traffic stops, and other activities that we are encountering as our community continues to grow.
We will continue to work diligently to provide the best service possible to the citizens of Chambers County and to ensure that the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office continues to strive to be the premiere law enforcement agency in the nation.” – Sheriff Brian C. Hawthorne
County Law Enforcement Statistic Totals:
- Calls for Service – 2021 totals 37,046; 2022 totals, 38,740 which is 4.57% increase.
- Incident Reports – 2021 totals, 2,472; 2022 totals, 2,964 which is 19.9% increase.
- Arrests Made – 2021 totals, 1,415; 2022 totals, 1903 which is 34.5% increase.
- Traffic Stops – 2021 totals, 8,567; 2022 totals, 8,942 which is 4.37% increase.
- Firearms Seized – 2021totals, 108; 2022 totals, 199 which is 84.3% increase.
Hawthorne addressed the increase in firearms seized. He stated that since the 2017 – 2020 riots and lawlessness in cities, such as Seattle, Portland, and Houston, people are carelessly carrying weapons. “A lot of this is carried over from East Harris County,” said Hawthorne. “And there have been a lot of road rage incidents.” He also noted the almost 35% increase in arrests made. “Our focus needs to be on a new jail. So many of the inmates are pretrial inmates, inmates who have not or could not make bail, and are sitting in the jail waiting for their court hearing.” Hawthorne also mentioned that the majority of felony crimes are committed by nonresidents of Chambers County.
In other Chambers County Commissioners Court news, in the public comments, Pct. 1 Commissioner Jimmy Gore announced that he was running for reelection in 2024. Justin Sanders of Anahuac addressed agenda item #6.1 – Discuss and consider Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Anahuac Youth Sports Organization (AYSO) and Chambers County for use of the Jimmy Silva Sports Complex at Fort Anahuac Park. Sanders stated that the MOU as is currently written only takes into account only the AYSO in using the facilities. He and other supporters asked the Court to consider “club and select” teams to be able to use the facilities as well. Commissioner Gore agreed with Sanders but stated that the fields are to be used by Chambers County residents only.
Denise Hutter, Chambers County Tax Assessor/Collector, presented her letter of retirement/resignation to the Court. Her last day will be January 31, 2023. Hutter repeated support for her deputy Regina Castillo to be appointed as interim. County Judge Jimmy Sylvia said Castillo needs to fill out an application and apply for the job.
Samantha Humphrey, Economic Development Director, asked the Court to consider combining the proposed EMS building, with the proposed EMS warehouse and the proposed Public Health and Environmental Protection (PHEP) warehouse. Humphrey stated the project will be more cost effective and increases the possibility of qualifying for more grant money to fund the combined projects. The new EMS building will be TDCHA grant-funded for $5million dollars.
Agenda item #7.1 – discuss and consider authorizing Purchasing to solicit RFQ’s for library generator design “generated a lot of discussion (no pun intended).” Discussion among the Commissioners were largely in favor of providing generators for not all, but some buildings such as the libraries as well as buildings that house “sensitive” information that needs to be kept safe from floods, hurricanes, or humidity that can create mold, etc., when the power is out. Maintenance & Buildings supervisor Mike Lessley strongly voiced his opposition to buying any new generators for additional buildings. Lessley said not only are the generators expensive but maintenance is expensive and time consuming. The Court voted 2-1 to proceed with the RFQ. Gore and Tice voted for, Hammond voted against. Dagley was absent, and the Judge did not need to vote.
In an item that the Court said needed a policy created to deal with it, agenda item #18.1 – Discuss and consider reinstating years of service vacation and longevity for John Quinten Adams and Lori Peine, was approved soley due to the fact that there is no a policy in place to addresses such circumstances. Hammond has said in the past that the County needed to restudy its personnel policies regarding vacation hours as too many “exceptions” seemed to be granted to employees.