Fort Bend County Commissioners Court

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office put out more details of its plan to hire up to 20 more deputies to increase engagement in the county’s more rural areas.

County commissioners on Tuesday listened to a proposal by FBCSO Executive Maj. Manuel Zamora of how the office will use the new deputies, and more importantly to the commissioners, how the project will be funded.

The goal is to have more FBCSO deputies that would go to areas including Needville, Kendleton Beasley, Fresno/Arcola and the Four Corners area where there has been an increase in crime, according to Zamora.

But the deputies would also try to engage with the communities that they patrol and work on the root causes of crime in those areas.

Zamora said that FBCSO has applied for a $3.9 million grant from the U.S. Justice Department as part of their Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program over the next three years.

But the program only provides up to 75% of the funding, which means Fort Bend County must provide the additional funding. The county would pay 5% of the costs in 2022 (over $72,000), then it increases to 10% (over $144,000) for 2023 and 2024, according to the total costs provided by Zamora.

But the county would also have to pay for the equipment for the 20 new deputies, including six new vehicles, along with radios and body armor. That would cost an additional $490,000.

When you add things up, Fort Bend County would receive $3.9 million for the new deputies, but would have to pay up to $851,000 in those three years.

County Judge KP George agreed with the need of having more deputies in the more rural areas, but was concerned with the equipment costs added in, which means the county would have to fund 48.1% of the overall funding of these additional deputies, and then Fort Bend would have to take on the full funding after the grants expire in 2025.

Commissioners approved the funding for the grant if it is awarded to FBCSO, but want the office to work with the county’s budget office and the county auditor to make the match more affordable, which may include less than 20 new positions.

“Like the judge said, there is a need, but there’s money restrictions as well,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales said.

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