That was a smart move by Harris County Commissioners. I'm glad to see somebody in Houston has figured out that job one for the Sheriff is running an overcrowded jail with 10,000 inmates. Fixing the jail's inmate record systems is a much more pressing concern than buying fancy surveillance equipment or adding machine guns to patrol boats in the harbor.
The Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday tossed out almost all of Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s requests for federal stimulus funding, instead allocating his office $6.2 million for electronic inmate medical records.
The court balked at Garcia’s original plan to spend $6.6 million leasing a helicopter and another $550,000 buying equipment, including a covert surveillance van and machine guns for boats patrolling the Houston Ship Channel.
The sheriff’s revised proposal included a scaled-back helicopter program, but called for spending most of the money on computer systems to better manage inmates and jailers. Just $1.5 million would have gone toward electronic medical records under that plan.
All over the state, counties are making similar decisions right now about what to do with federal stimulus money, and my guess is we'll see a lot of it squandered buying guns and gadgets instead of spending it on fundamentals. That would be a waste and a shame.