Sheriff David Jones Reflects on Challenges Ahead for His Second Term
SAN ANGELO, TX — Sheriff David Jones answered the phone last night as the election results determined he won re-election. He defeated former deputy Walter Bryant 75-25 percent Tuesday night by a wider margin than Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Tom Green County (71.5-24 percent). He commented on his win, what accomplishments he’s most proud of, and what he will work on for the next four years.
Sheriffs in Texas are elected every four years, as is the case in most other counties in the U.S. The position is the chief law enforcement officer in the designated county. But a sheriff’s office handles much more than fighting crime. In Texas, the sheriff is responsible for guarding our state courts, serving warrants and civil papers, and managing the county jail.
Jones said the wider breadth of duties the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office handles requires a “professional organization.” Drawing from his 33-year career as a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and criminal investigator, Jones said the position as Sheriff is a culmination of his life’s experience. “And then also you have to manage the jail,” he said. DPS troopers don’t manage jails.
Jones said he set out during his first four-year term to add more professional processes to the TGCSO. It started with more education and training. That led to an increased level of performance. In particular, Jones said the SO increased the number of patrols with better scheduling. “That put more of our people on the street,” he said. “Increased community visibility is important to us.”
In regards to patrol enhancements, Jones added a Crime Scene Investigation unit headed by Lt. Terry Lowe. Lowe came out of retirement at first to re-examine cold cases as a reservist. As Jones saw more challenges in his organization’s crime scene procedures, he tapped Lowe to add dedicated crime scene investigation capabilities to the organization.
“Better investigations and better crime scene management has allowed us to build better cases for our district attorneys and get convictions,” Jones said.
Jones said the county is experiencing a growing narcotics problem. “Most of the crime here has its roots in drugs or alcohol, particularly theft crimes,” he said. “There are lots of drugs flowing into San Angelo.”
Jones said his office has beefed up its intelligence gathering capabilities to combat this trend, but, with a limited budget from the county, he has looked for out-of-the-box solutions.
One of them he is working on is a combined drug interdiction task force with the San Angelo Police Department. Before drugs enter the City of San Angelo, they traverse through the county first. He views a combined, coordinated effort as a win-win for county and city law enforcement agencies.
One of the indicators of a rising crime problem is an increasing jail inmate population.
“About 1.5 years ago, the jail probably housed 400 inmates a night on average. Today, I’m looking at 500 inmates per night in a facility built to hold just 449,” he said. A new jail with 624 beds will soon be built on the northeast side of the county.
Jones attributes part of the jail population increase to crime, and another part to increased caseloads in the state district courts and the inmates awaiting trial.
Other than the approval of the $45 million new jail, there have been no major budget increases for the TGCSO recently, he said. “We’re combating crime with just the resources we have.”
Jones added, “I enjoy service to the people. I see people at their very best and at their very worst. When they’re at their worst is where I job begins. In the end, it is our job to bring justice for the victims of crime.”
Jones said he is proud of every member of his organization and the work accomplished over the past four years. He said he intends to build on those successes during his next term.
“I appreciate the voters entrusting me with the honor to serve this community for four more years,” he said.