Tuesday night in Northwest Harris County, two Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies were shot while responding to a 911 call. The suspect—who was killed when the deputies returned fire—was out on a PR bond for assault of a family member.
A Personal Recognizance (PR) bond does not require a deposit or collateral, and the defendant simply promises to appear in court on the appointed date. PR bonds have become the bond of choice in the Houston area, even in cases where the defendant displays violent behavior.
Last August, the mother of Caitlynne Guajardo filed a lawsuit against 26 judges and magistrates in Harris County for handing out PR bonds to violent offenders, including her son-in-law. Caitlynne and her unborn child were stabbed to death by her husband, Alex Guajardo, who had been arrested for assaulting his wife and torturing and killing their cat just days before Caitlynne’s death.
Amid these heartbreaking stories of children—like Arlene Alvarez—dying from stray shots, cops being gunned down, and much more arising from the increasing crime, the Harris County Commissioners Court just denied a majority of law enforcement funding requests.
Republican County Commissioners Tom Ramsey and Jack Cagle attempted to provide funding for more officers in their budget amendments at the recommendation of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, but their amendments were rejected by their fellow Democrat commissioners.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released a statement on the issue, calling the rejection of 82 percent of law enforcement requests “unacceptable.”
“The Harris County Commissioners Court rejected this budget [Ramsey and Cagle’s], and instead voted 3-2 for a raise for sheriff’s deputies, which was far less than the budget requests from law enforcement officials. The Harris County Deputies Organization criticized the budget for not adding more officers and argued that Lina Hidalgo has sold out its citizenry and law enforcement by ignoring this budget. I could not agree more.”
Patrick called the decision to ignore requests from law enforcement “a slap in the face to its citizens.”
“Crime rates only continue to skyrocket in Harris County. People are begging for safer streets, and our police officers have outlined the resources they need to combat this dangerous spike in crime, yet the county commissioners are turning a deaf ear,” said Patrick. “Our law enforcement officers go to work every day, willing, if needed, to risk their lives for total strangers. We have seen far too many funerals for police officers killed in the line of duty. The job becomes more dangerous each day. We must restore respect for members of law enforcement and give them the resources they need to do their jobs in keeping the public safe.”
Indeed, according to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), officer-hiring is decreasing while resignations and retirements are on the rise.
One respondent to the PERF survey stated, “In 2020 and 2021, most of our officers who left did not leave for another department. They left the profession.”
Another respondent to the PERF survey said, “We have seen the most dramatic increase in retirements/resignations in my six years as chief. Officers who became eligible to retire have done it at the first opportunity. We had a lieutenant resign with 16 years who was not eligible for retirement.”
However, it is not strictly long-time officers resigning. Another department said their resignations are coming from officers with seven years of service or less.
The two Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies who were shot last night are 27 and 28 years old, each having been with the department for two years or less. Both officers are expected to recover.