A new year brings new leadership at the Tarrant County Courthouse, and this is a year of sharp change.
Most notably, Tarrant County’s deputies have worked professionally and quietly, avoiding high-profile incidents at a time of tension between law enforcement agencies and many residents.
Waybourn has said he wants patrol deputies to be more visible. As the 31-year police chief in Dalworthington Gardens, he and his officers pioneered DWI stops that include a “no refusal” blood test, and he rightfully should increase the emphasis on DWI enforcement on rural Tarrant County roads patrolled by sheriff’s deputies.
But more visibility also brings a risk of unnecessary traffic stops and arrests, more dangerous confrontations, more potential liability for taxpayers and more expenses for an overburdened justice system.
Many conservative leaders in Austin promote a “right on crime” philosophy of “effective” police work that focuses on solving problems and not exacerbating them. Waybourn should join that effort.
Waybourn has not yet said how he and his new senior command team, to be named either this weekend or before the Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday, will reflect Tarrant County’s diverse population. Nor has he said how he might help cities achieve positive policing in minority communities.
But no doubt by now he has seen video of a Fort Worth officer sent to protect a resident’s child who instead made the conflict worse, ending in three arrests. That was not serving the community.
In 2001, when Anderson took over the sheriff’s office, he brought a public relations knack and 21st-century professional standards to what had been known as an old-fashioned “cowboy” law enforcement agency.
Waybourn wears a cowboy hat, but he is also a personable and highly regarded 31-year suburban chief with goals to improve training, upgrade equipment and raise standards for deputies and jailers.
His goal should be to make the sheriff’s office better, not busier.