Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Tejml: Sheriff Travis’s landmark achievements in first term

Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml
Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

Sometimes we forget to say “Thank You” for landmark achievements that we may just take for granted.  Will Travis has been Emil’s and my next door neighbor for over two decades.  (Well, his new home is now two blocks down the street, but his prior home directly adjoined ours.)  In 20 plus years, you can get to know your neighbor very well.  Mary Maddoux, Carl and Kaye Hill, and my husband Emil and I relied many times on Will’s neighborly help – and that was decades BEFORE he became our Denton County Sheriff.

Since Will is standing for re-election in the March 1st Republican primary, it is appropriate – and possibly overdue – to Thank him for what he has accomplished in the past three years as our Sheriff.  These are just a few of the achievements that I personally believe are outstanding in bringing the Sheriff’s Office up-to-date in the real world.

  • Conduct the Sheriff’s Office $50 Million Dollar Budget as a Business Accountable to its Taxpayers:

The Budget of the Sheriff’s Office is over $50 Million Dollars!  The largest of any Denton County governmental office!  Sheriff Travis has emphasized a “cost-benefit” analysis of any proposed expenditure.  Deputies might love to have certain expensive law enforcement equipment.  But, if the benefit to County residents doesn’t justify the cost, the Sheriff has the unenviable position of telling his Deputies “No”.  The new Sheriff’s Office of Budget and Finance will be functional for fiscal year 2016, thanks to Sheriff Travis’s financial foresight!

The Quartermaster Section centralizes the purchase, inventory, tracking, and allocation of equipment, supplies and fleet vehicles to manage and reduce the cost to taxpayers.  The program has been a success in reducing costs and extending the life-cycle of equipment and vehicles.

  • Replacing Denton County’s antiquated Radio System:

The Sheriff’s Office dispatch radio system was so antiquated that Motorola no longer supported it.  Spare parts had to be found on E-Bay.  The County even bought the Atlanta Olympics ancient 1996 radio system to enable the Sheriff’s dispatch radios to continue to function.  Many municipal Police Departments in Denton County rely on the Sheriff’s radio system for dispatch. Can you imagine a law enforcement officer in an emergency situation calling for backup on the antiquated Sheriff’s radio system – and getting a “busy signal”?  Or a firefighter facing an out-of-control fire getting a “busy signal” when he desperately needed help?

Sheriff Travis actively lobbied the Denton County Commissioners Court to upgrade the Sheriff’s radio dispatch system.  It wasn’t that the Commissioners did not want to do this.  But the $10 million dollar expense to upgrade was daunting.  Sheriff Travis was able to convince the Commissioners that the expense was well worth the benefit.  His business based “cost-benefit” analysis was persuasive to the Court.  (The new system is also P25 compliant – the latest standard for upgraded emergency radio systems.)

  • Successful Enforcement with DEA against Illegal Drugs:

Sheriff Travis is a former Field Agent for the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).  The Sheriff’s Office’s cooperation with the DEA recently resulted in an incredible Million Dollar Drug bust on I-35W!

  • Denton County Sheriff Will Travis
    Denton County Sheriff Will Travis

    New $30 Million Dollar Denton County Tower Jail is one of three (of 249 County Jails) to Pass Inspection with a 100 Percent Rating!

The Denton County jail complex consists of three separate buildings that house 1600 inmates;  the main jail, the pre-trial jail, and the new tower jail. Denton County’s new $30 million dollar tower jail opened last October with 384 inmates.  Texas has 249 County jails. (Not every one of the 254 Texas counties has a jail.)  Denton County was one of three of the 249 County jails in the State to pass inspection with a 100% rating!  No deficiencies! This is the first time the Denton County jail has passed with such flying colors!

  • Securing Additional Deputies to Patrol all of Denton County’s extensive 958 Square Miles:

 Denton County encompasses 958 square miles. A huge area to patrol! And many of those square miles are NOT under the jurisdiction of municipal police forces.  Lantana Fresh Water Supply Districts #6 and #7 are examples of this.  Sheriff Travis was able to persuade the Commissioners Court to fund SIX additional Deputies (though less than half of the additional deputies he requested.)  Deputies and their patrol vehicles are not cheap.  Each Deputy (and his vehicle, equipment, training, supervision, and benefits) probably equates to at least $85,000 annually per Deputy.

Sheriff Travis instructed his Deputies to drive through Lantana when commuting to or from reporting to the Sheriff’s Office in Denton.  This provided a mobile law enforcement presence that was meant to deter ordinary thieves, who believed Lantana to be “easy pickings” due to its lack of dedicated law enforcement officers.

  • Creating a Central Records Retention and Elimination System:

This is an incredibly boring, but still very necessary, subject.  The prior Sheriff’s administration had no centralized records management.  Every Town and City has a “records retention and elimination” schedule.  The State doesn’t give us a choice to do this.  The records management procedure is State mandated – and should be.  Municipal records encompass subdivision plats, code enforcement records, municipal court traffic records including DWI and DUI cases.  Our Town-City Secretaries ensure that each municipality follows the State mandates for preserving, and eventually responsibly destroying, governmental records.

Sheriff Travis installed a very belated Records Management Section for the Sheriff’s Office.  As previously noted, this is an obvious fundamental good “business” practice.  The SO’s records include warrants for Failure to Appear in Court and unpaid delinquent Child Support, hot checks, assaults and rapes, and also driving records for DWI and DUI charges. Also covered are records for required jail time and subsequent probation details.  Unbelievable that the prior Sheriff’s Office administration did not have a centralized records management system!

  • Project “Safe Lakes” Improves Water Safety during Summer Holidays:

Being visible and available has been a key to the success in the safety of this project.  The Sheriff’s Office covers Denton County lakes via boat patrols for the three major holiday weekends of summer:  Labor Day, July 4th, and Memorial Day.  Boat drivers are not required to have a specific license to handle a boat.  This fact, combined with possible misuse of alcoholic beverages, can contribute to tragic boating accidents on these summer holidays.   The visibility of Sheriff’s Deputies patrolling in boats on the lakes has a dampening effect on such accidents.

  • Simply being “available” to Denton County Citizens:

Sheriff Travis seems to be “everywhere” in Denton County.  He attends Council Meetings if an issue concerning the Sheriff’s Office is being discussed; he personally visits area police departments to get a first-hand appreciation of how the Sheriff’s Office personnel can work with municipal police; he visits school campuses to discuss safety issues; he cooperates extensively with the DEA to make joint drug busts more effective. He attends seminars on efficient but humane jail management. He even attends July 4th Parades and helps lift children onto Fire Engine for rides with Santa.

The depth and breadth of Travis’s commitment to the office of Sheriff is impressive!  And his accomplishments in the Sheriff’s Office the past 3 years are nothing short of incredible!  His business and financial experience combined with his personal knowledge of law enforcement is a solid foundation on which to begin a second four year term of office.  We are fortunate to have a man this capable as our Sheriff.

  • A couple of personal facts about Will that you might not have known:

For decades he has been an active and certified “volunteer firefighter” with the Argyle Fire District.  The District covers 54 square miles of Denton County, including the towns of Argyle, Bartonville, Copper Canyon, Corral City and Northlake, the Lantana and Canyon Oaks subdivisions, and unincorporated areas of the County.

He is an accomplished equestrian in a Western saddle and has competed in many bull-dogging competitions at rodeos.

He is a longtime member of our Copper Canyon Trail Committee and contributes his time regularly to maintain our nearby trails on Corps of Engineers land.  He personally mows the trails and repeatedly trims back trees and branches that encroach on the equestrian/pedestrian paths through the beautiful, natural wooded areas.

He is an absolute “mush melon” Dad to his beloved daughter Dani, who will leave for university next year!

If you have read this far – Thank you!  But the real person who deserves your thanks is our hard-working Copper Canyon neighbor Sheriff Will Travis!

Sue Tejml
Sue Tejml
Sue Tejml is mayor of Copper Canyon, TX.

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