Coryell Commissioners hear annual traffic stop reports
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Coryell County Commissioners’ Court received the results of the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office 2017 report concerning traffic stop racial profiling information during their meeting held Monday morning.
The report, which had been submitted to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) earlier, detailed state required traffic stop racial profiling information.
Sheriff Scott Williams informed the commissioners that the number of arrests went up in 2017.
“Our numbers are up straight across the board,” Williams said. “In some places, they’re probably four or five times as much than years past.”
Other changes include the requirements for reporting. What previously was one page has increased to five pages of information, moving beyond race and ethnicity, Williams said.
The Sheriff’s Office ended up “blindsided” when using their current “antiquated” system, he added. It took three full-time employees two weeks to manually pull the information requested by the state. Williams shared that he learned of a computer program that would be able to pull all of the information in less than a minute. Coryell County Judge Firth encouraged Williams to consider approaching the commissioners about a solution when they put together the next budget.
The report showed a total of 3,045 traffic stops conducted in 2017- 1,959 males and 1,086 females. The race or ethnicity breakdown was 2,055 white, 588 black, 318 hispanic/latino, 29 Asian/Pacific islander and 55 other.
Of the reasons for a stop, 2,495 were moving traffic violations, 368 vehicle traffic violations, 136 violations of law and 46 instances of preexisting knowledge.
The most common location of the stops was a state highway with 1,977 instances, followed by 515 stops on U.S. highways, 287 stops on county roads, 259 stops on city streets and seven stops on private property or other locations.
Results of the stops included 2,129 written warnings, 832 citations, 26 written warnings and arrests, 64 citations and arrests and nine arrests.
Of those arrests, 83 were based on a violation of penal code; eight were based on violation of traffic law; nine were based on violation of city/county ordinance and six were for outstanding warrants.
Dr. Donald Kelm, district extension administrator for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, presented to the commissioners the newly hired Coryell County extension agent for 4-H youth development, Becky Coward. Commissioners Kyle Matthews and Ray Ashby both expressed their approval of the choice.
The commissioners approved an early termination of the county burn ban that was set to expire March 12, after recommendation from the Gatesville Fire Chief Billy Vaden due to the recent rains.
The commissioners approved a financing agreement with Texas First State Bank for the purchase of six 2018 Dodge Chargers equipped with law enforcement packages for the sheriff’s office, for the total cost of $279,000. Williams encouraged the commissioners to come by later to check out the vehicles and hear the sirens.
Bob Harrell, Coryell County Emergency Management Coordinator, updated the commissioners on the progress for the removal of 350,000 tires on state-owned property west of King. Martin Marietta, a company specializing in supplying construction aggregates and heavy building materials, has shown interest in using the tires to make cement through a process involving a kiln and mixing the residue with gypsum, Harrell said. Veteran Land Board representative Anthony Vargas is currently working towards finalizing an agreement with Marrieta within the next 10 days with a test load expected to occur in approximately two weeks. Should the tires still be on the property when mosquito season starts, the VLB will spray the area, according to Harrell.
The commissioners approved an interlocal contract between Coryell County and the Department of Public Safety for Highway Patrol to provide office space for state highway patrol officers, although concern over whether ADA approval was needed for the new occupancy. Matthews assured the commissioners that the space, which is the former Lone Star building located at 418 E. Leon St, would comply with ADA regulations, if necessary, in time.
The commissioners also approved a lease agreement for two postage machines to be located in the Gatesville Courthouse and the Copperas Cove Tax Office, selecting Neopost as the company to supply the machines.