Montgomery County gets more money for stun guns
Deputies soon will carry weapon; grant also boosts speed enforcement at several key sites
By the end of the year, all patrol deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will be equipped with stun guns.
Montgomery County began adding Tasers to its arsenal last year through funding from Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. A second grant from the organization this year, along with supplemental funds, is expected to fully equip the 180-member patrol force.
“We are hoping to have all patrol deputies equipped with Tasers,” said Lt. Dan Norris of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Services.
A Taser is a device used primarily by law enforcement that shoots high-voltage, nonlethal darts to subdue subjects at a range of about 21 feet.
In addition to the county sheriff’s department, the city of Conroe is expected to begin outfitting its patrol officers with Tasers through a $39,497 grant from the same agency. That would provide about 34 officers, about two-thirds of the patrol force, with the devices.
More are expected to be added next year, said Lt. Robert Yetter of the Conroe Police Department.
“It is what it is, and next year we will continue the project,” Yetter said.
Tasers are touted as a valuable tool in the law enforcement arsenal in dealing with hostile or aggressive individuals that prevents injuries both for law enforcement and suspects, although there have been some problems with its use in Houston.
Norris said the devices were used successfully by sheriff’s deputies several times here, and there have been no reports of death or injury as a result.
Conroe supplies Tasers to its patrol sergeants and also reported no problems.
Last year, Montgomery County purchased 67 Tasers through a grant and, in 2008, it expects to buy 60 more with $98,466 in grant funds. There are other supplemental grants that will fund the remaining Tasers as well as replacement cartridges.
In addition to the Tasers, Montgomery County’s grant will fund 101 bulletproof vests for sheriff’s deputies. Some of the vests will be used for new deputies, while the remainder will serve as a replacement supply. Manufacturers recommend that vests be replaced every five to seven years, Norris said.
Montgomery County also received a second grant this week from the Texas Department of Transportation to continue its enforcement program for speeders in the county.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office received $169,000 for the upcoming fiscal year to continue its targeted enforcement efforts.
Through the grant, Montgomery County has identified 17 key sites in the county where motorists routinely exceed the posted speed limit, including state highways, interstates and popular farm-to-market roads. The program is operated through overtime for existing deputies, Norris said.
“Montgomery County is one of the higher counties in the state for overall fatalities,” said Garry Rand, a traffic safety specialist with TxDOT. “It is a very serious effort, and we’ve been working with Montgomery County to make a difference.”
In addition to speed enforcement, the county receives grants to target drunken drivers, particularly around the holidays. The agency also installed signs along Interstate 45 to help raise awareness among motorists about the number of fatalities that occur on local roads.
In the first nine months of the speed program, the sheriff’s department issued more than 9,000 speeding citations and logged 3,400 hours of enforcement activities, Norris said.
The program also resulted in many additional commercial vehicle citations, arrests and drunken driving cases, Norris said. It is the third year of the TxDOT grant program.