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There’s always an excuse to not do it

Sorry, but this sounds like carping to me.

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia has nearly tripled the number of investigators assigned to an expanded Office of Inspector General to handle what he described as a “tremendous” backlog of unresolved complaints against jailers and deputies stretching back two years.

The reorganization has drawn mixed reviews. The head of the main deputies’ union approves of the idea, but some rank-and-file officers are leery.

Garcia said the change is needed to reduce the backlog of 160 pending investigations he inherited when he took office in January. He said 30 of those cases since have been closed.

The sheriff also said the reorganization was aimed in part at assuring U.S. Department of Justice investigators reviewing the high number of deaths in county jails that the department is willing to police its own.

“Part of what caused the DOJ complaint was there appeared to be no attention given to issues that led to the confrontation between the public, the inmates and the employees,” Garcia said. “We want to make sure people understand we are working hard to protect the public.”


Commissioner Steve Radack complained the move will reduce public safety.

“I have a huge problem with that. If you’re going to arbitrarily say this person used to ride in a patrol car and now you put them inside the building in internal affairs, this does not meet muster with me,” said Radack, a former police officer and county constable. “This is the same guy who told you he’s going to put more boots on the ground, but what they’re doing is changing the boots and changing them into wingtips.”


Richard Newby, president of the Harris County Deputies Organization, said it was unfair to employees to endure long waits while complaints are investigated.

“Something had to be done, and there are times you have to bite the bullet and do it,” he said. “We transferred bodies to take care of the problem.

“This is at the expense of all the departments — detention, patrol, the detective bureau — everybody got hit a little bit.”

Newby is right and Radack is wrong. This is a priority, and it’s one that cannot be met by hiring a bunch of new deputies to handle it. The OIG hasn’t been in existence for long, and hasn’t been staffed to investigate these long-standing problems. It is a matter of public safety – last I checked, the inmates in the jail were still members of the public, and they have a right to non-deadly living conditions. And frankly, this is one of the messes created by his predecessor that Garcia was elected to clean up. If Steve Radack has a problem with that, the person he should be complaining to is Tommy Thomas. Stace has more.

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One Comment

  1. Dennis says:

    Radack can usually be counted on to be wrong, if I am permitted to make such a blanket statement. And it interesting that the union rep agrees with the sheriff on the issue.

    I suspect there is a deeper reason why Commissioner Radack has such a visceral dislike of internal investigations of possible wrongdoing.

    No one ever really cleared up Radack’s own situation, briefly reported several years ago in the Chron, in which he was paid thousands of dollars for unspecified “consulting services”, but couldn’t produce a contract, invoices or even actual work products. Yeah, if I had that in my background, I wouldn’t much be in favor of expanded OIG investigations either.