The story about the deputies that were assigned driving duties for Sheriff Adrian Garcia and County Judge Ed Emmett got an extended play in the Chron thanks to a letter to the editor from Garcia and an email he sent to his distribution list, which led to this blog post by story author Liz Peterson. I mostly want to say that I was pleasantly surprised to see this bit:
I'm surprised the story warranted such a strong response from Garcia. A good percentage of readers thought we were making a mountain out of a mole hill anyway.
Dear Friend:Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 07, 2009 to Local politics
As the Sheriff of Harris County I made a commitment to make our communities safer and take the fight to criminal street gangs: both domestic and international. I vowed to fight drug and human trafficking organizations, to fight the threat of terrorism in our area, and to elevate the profile of the Harris County Sheriff's Department so that we may become the lead law enforcement entity in our region, if not in the country. This is an agenda that the citizens want, and my staff and I are working hard everyday to fulfill it. This is an agenda that will make criminals angry.
As I work everyday to realize these goals, I am talking to key stakeholders, engaging the community, reviewing documents, talking to employees and employee groups, and I am making decisions on operational, legal, strategic and budgetary matters, all of this on a nearly daily basis.
In order to maximize my time and focus on these matters, I have a deputy who is assigned to accompany me as I travel throughout the county, so that I can read documents, take and make calls, and use as much of my time on the business of the county.
This deputy has the challenge to act as my eyes and ears as I focus on my duties as the chief law enforcement officer of Harris County. That is why he has received specialized training from HPD and will soon be trained by the U.S. Secret Service. He has to watch for those who do not want me to keep our community safe, and in a community of over 4 million, this is not an easy assignment. He stays in contact with my office and relays critical information to me and will even interrupt my meetings if the information warrants it. When I am not traveling about, he also has additional duties. Furthermore, if other officials like our Judges in our criminal and civil courts are threatened, this deputy will be among one of the first to respond and be assigned to protect them.
Yet the Houston Chronicle published a misleading story yesterday suggesting that this deputy was nothing more than a "chauffeur". I wanted to communicate directly with you to set the record straight. The Harris County Sheriff's Department does not hire chauffeurs. The Chronicle was given examples of his duties but chose not to print any of them. This is inexcusable. This deputy is willing to risk his life to protect the citizens of Harris County as well as to protect me. I hope that the Chronicle will realize how wrong they were to refer to him as just a chauffeur and apologizes to him.
As for the deputy assigned to County Judge Ed Emmett, this deputy has served the Sheriff's Department for over 20 years, and his assignment was the result of a request from Judge Emmett. I took his request seriously.
It is important that we do not let inaccurate reporting go unchallenged. I want to thank you again for your continued support and encourage you to forward this email to your friends and family.
Harris County Sheriff