Smith, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, said within the next few days new technology will allow residents to make anonymous tips using their smart phone or computer and will allow the sheriff’s office to contact parents in the event of an incident at one of the schools in the county.
Smith explained his office has purchased software for Citizen Observer Tip411, which will work in conjunction with Google Maps, to place specific crimes such as burglaries.
“If there is a home burglary in an area, for instance, then it will be put on Google Maps and it will allow someone with information to type in a tip by hovering their mouse over the house icon,” he said.
Smith said it gives his deputies another tool to help provide the best possible service to his constituents.
Other changes made since Smith took office include a full staff in the 911 communications center, 12-hour shifts for deputies with some deputies being trained to conduct simple investigations instead of detectives being called out for misdemeanor crimes.
Smith said some deputies are being trained in DNA, fingerprint, shoe print, tire track and other evidence collection processes and they would be the point officers on misdemeanor crimes, freeing up detectives to work on felony cases.
Smith said the department also now has chaplains on board to work with employees. Members of other law enforcement agencies including Homeland Security and the Texas Rangers have offices in his building to have a better working relationship.
Talking about an arrest made this week in a 2012 homicide case, Smith said the department was lacking in leadership before he took office.
“It is my job to get (the deputies) the training and tools they need to work these crimes,” he said.
With the jail expansion project ongoing, Smith said the new kitchen serving inmates would be opened Wednesday at the low-risk facility off of U.S. Highway 69 north of Loop 323. He also said deputies once housed in the jail on Elm Street to assist those wanting to visit their loved ones in jail have now been placed in the sheriff’s office to take walk-ins 24 hours each day.
Smith said additional changes are in store, and he said his door is open to the public.
“I want this office to remain transparent and provide the best possible police service we can,” he said.