County grapples with deputy shortage

Law enforcement presence needed in Northeast Culberson County

By Becky Brewster

Culberson County Commissioners met in regular session on November 13, faced with a lengthy agenda. Discussions on the development in the northeastern part of the county again dominated the meeting. Sheriff Oscar Carrillo reminded the Court that law enforcement services in that area have been “reactionary,” responding to calls on an “as needed” basis. However, Carrillo emphatically stated that “we need law enforcement presence up there!” He expressed the need to have at least two additional deputies with one additional vehicle available to provide law enforcement visibility to deter illegal activities from traffic violations to theft. The consensus of the court was that this problem needs to be addressed. Several of the members of the Court recently toured the area and saw first-hand the chaos that reigns in the northeastern part of Culberson County. Com. Gilda Morales indicated that she would reach out to contacts made on this field trip to begin a dialogue to come up with a solution to providing services in the area.

In response to Carrillo’s concern expressed at the last meeting concerning the difficulties in finding a JP to travel with him to handle death situations in the northeastern part of the county, JP Precinct No. 1, Rita Carrasco, provided the Court with detailed information on the responsibilities and duties of the Justices of the Peace in regards to the inquests. She noted that the JP’s coordinate their schedules to make sure someone is always available. Carrasco stated that she would consider the situation in northeastern Culberson County to be an “emergency” situation that needs to be addressed, and reiterated the need for the Sheriff’s Office to have a transport vehicle to be able to bring the deceased in to Van Horn. She noted that the JP’s duty is finished when they pronounce someone dead, and determine if an autopsy is needed, but that the Sheriff has to stay until the transportation is arranged, which can take hours to coordinate.

Carrasco also addressed the Court outlining when a JP has to vacate the office due to a change in residence. She noted that if a JP moves out of the precinct in which he was elected, but still remains within the County, the JP can continue to serve out the original term of office. However, they would be ineligible to run in that precinct in the next election.

Grant Administrator Becky Brewster reported that Culberson County has received a notice of grant award for a 2018 TxCDBG grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture to renovate and expand the Culberson County Food Pantry. The Court passed resolutions adopting various civil rights plans and policies as required by the grant program and handled other administrative matters.

In other County business, the Court also

  • Approved payment for Courthouse Security Services at $35/hour.
  • Approved payment for legal services for the Sheriff.
  • Approved travel/training expenses for the County Treasurer-elect and staff.
  • Approved a resolution for the Indigent Defense Grant Program.
  • Established the salary for the new hire in the Road and Bridge Dept.
  • Approved a contract with David Rivera to organize the IT closet at the Courthouse.
  • Approved a contract with Juvenal Sandoval for repairs at the Nutrition Center.
  • Finalized plans for the Christmas Employee Appreciation dinner.
  • Held an executive session with no action to be taken.
  • Canvassed the results of the 2018 General election.
  • Heard reports on various County Projects.
  • Approved monthly reports.
  • Approved monthly payroll and expenses for October.