POSTED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 2:50pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 2:56pm
Smith County, TX (KETK) —
Keeping his campaign promise to hold regular news conferences, today, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith held his first press event and Q&A session since taking office January 1.
With members of the media gathered at the Smith County Sheriff's Office, Smith discussed putting more deputies on the street, cost-saving efforts, his commitment to transparency, arrests, and his plans for the future.
"When I was campaigning, I outlined many changes that I felt needed to take place to improve the way the Sheriff's Office operates. One of those changes was providing more transparency and scheduling meetings with the news media to give them the opportunity to ask me questions directly," said Sheriff Smith. "Since January 1 when I took office, changes have been implemented that have significantly improved how we serve the citizens of Smith County."
During his news conference, Smith discussed the new 12-hour patrol shifts that put more deputies on the streets. He said that many deputies were now being trained in crime scene investigation techniques, including crime scene photography, fingerprinting, processing tire and shoe print impressions and collecting DNA evidence.
Another of Smith's campaign promises was to find more efficient ways to spend tax dollars while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Sheriff’s Office.
One of the first cost-saving measures he implemented happened immediately after he took office. Smith changed vendors and modified the design for striping and applying Sheriff's Office markings to new vehicles.
The new vendor and design change, coordinated through Wagner Cadillac in Tyler, dropped the cost per vehicle from $2,700 to $500. The previous design will be phased out as older vehicles are retired.
Smith also discussed the addition of a public information officer (PIO), a position thatis necessary to get information out to the public. John Moore, who for 13 years served as PIO for Trinity Mother Frances, was hired for the new position in February. Moore now proactively provides the media with information and updates, and is available to answer questions as events happen.
Numerous high-profile arrests have been made since Smith took office, including individuals who were charged with murder, sexual assault of a child, a Smith County Sheriff’s Office Jail Corporal who was charged with aggravated assault and the arrest of a Smith County adult probation officer who is accused of injury to a child.
Smith reiterated his commitment to transparency and asked the news media to provide input on how his office could better serve their needs in disseminating information to the public. He said he plans to have media updates monthly, either in person or via a news release.
The Sheriff's Office also provides information through its Facebook page and its new Twitter account, @SmithCSO.