CLAY COUNTY, TX (KAUZ)
Sheriff Kenny Lemons believes that an extra deputy would help make Clay County a safer place. However, while Sheriff Lemons wants another deputy the decision to add an extra man or woman to the patrols is made by Clay County Commissioners when they set their yearly budget.
"We are 30 miles wide and about 60 miles long. From tip to tip and we cover about 1,100 plus square miles," said Lemons.
Clay County is locked into a contractual agreement to be an acting police force in the city of Henrietta because they have no official city police department. There are five deputies responsible for Henrietta, two additional deputies in administration positions that leans Sheriff Lemons only has three deputies out 10 that are available and able to make the routine patrols throughout the Clay County, the 16th largest in Texas.
"You put another man on duty not only is it smaller but it is safer for these men," said Sheriff Lemons.
Deputy Donnie Waters works the overnight patrol from 11 at night until seven or later in the morning.
"Yeah, I'm usually out there by myself," said Waters.
That can make the already large county seem a lot bigger than it already is. Waters said that if he's making patrols in Vashti, but dispatch wants to send him to an incident in Byers it would take 45 minutes or less to make that response call. Much like Lemons, Water agrees that he would feel safer during patrols and responding to crime if he had an additional unit on patrol during his shift.
"We need the backup out there, especially late at night when you don't have other agencies on," said Waters.
By dividing the county into two zones Sheriff Lemons said an additional man or woman would cut response times and the county patrols per deputy in half.
"I'm going to spread it out with two units to cover some of these calls. You could have more coverage and visibility in the south end and the north," said Sheriff Lemons.
According to Sheriff Lemons an additional Clay County Deputy would cost $57,000-$60,000 a year.
"You must have your numbers together, you have to be able to justify where the tax dollars are going," said Sheriff Lemons.
Through a variety of ways Sheriff Lemons has been able to help cut annual budget cost for his office by as much as $145,000 a year in just his previous term. The Sheriff said that if that savings trend continues and the commissioners do approve an additional deputy he can use that savings to pay for the extra patrol without costing Clay County tax payers any additional financial burden. Adding service without an increase in tax cost could help sway the conservative board of commissioners to side with