Incoming Precinct 8 Constable assesses new job
Phil Sandlin said the biggest challenge he will face when he becomes Precinct 8 constable on June 1 is having to do more with less without compromising public safety or duties.
Sandlin, who takes over from longtime mentor and outgoing boss Constable Bill Bailey, said he is up to the task.
He said the constable's office has already made adjustments under a recent restructuring that involved budget reductions and a dozen layoffs. That included Bailey, who upset by the layoffs, handed in his resignation.
As a consequence, a captain's position will be left unfilled.
As part of the restructuring, Sandlin said officers from the warrant division were transferred to the patrol division, while other employees are wearing two hats. For instance, Sandlin said when they are not working in the courts, bailiffs can be used to serve civil papers.
"The money will be better utilized with more deputies on the streets to do preventative patrols for the protection of our citizens," Sandlin said.
He pledged that the constable's office would continue to have a presence on the streets.
He also said his officers will continue to build strong relationships with neighborhoods, which will include their continued attendance at neighborhood meetings.
Sandlin said that should funding become available, he would like to put more resources into reducing truancy and addressing underage drinking and narcotic use in public places.
"Our job is to respond to the needs of citizens," he said.
Sandlin, 43, was appointed May 3 by the Harris County Commissioner's Court to the elected position, which Bailey held for almost three decades. Bailey will step down Tuesday, May 31.
Sandlin, a resident of Deer Park, expects his move up to be relatively smooth, having spent the last six years overseeing day-to-day operations as chief deputy.
"I'll be the elected official over the whole department," he said.
"I have to make sure we're functioning adequately within the budget restraints and meeting needs of people."
Sandlin will be responsible for an almost $5.6 million budget and 62 employees, 47 of them peace officers, over southeast Harris County.
The jurisdiction includes Deer Park, La Porte, Shoreacres, Morgan's Point, Seabrook, El Lago and Taylor Lake Village, Nasa Bay, Webster and parts of Houston and Pasadena.
"It's definitely a big step," said Sandlin, who worked his way up through the ranks, having started with the agency in 1992 as a patrol deputy.
"But my heart is in the job. I have devoted my whole life to Harris County Precinct 8. I love the job, and this is my home."
Bailey, who recommended Sandlin for the top job, has no doubt Sandlin will do well and thrive.
"He is eminently qualified," he said.
"He knows the day-to-day operations. He's extremely intelligent, dedicated, not afraid of hard work and willing to put in the hours. He understands what he's getting into."
For more information, visit www.co.harris.tx.us/pct8/.
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