Smith County Sheriff's Office considers formal partnership with ATF


A federal agency may be able to pay for some of the Smith County Sheriff's Office overtime.

On Tuesday, the Smith County Commissioners Court will evaluate a proposed memorandum of understanding between the sheriff's office and ATF, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that formalizes how the agencies could partner on investigations and share associated expenses. 

The meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. in the Smith County Courthouse Annex building, 200 E. Ferguson St. It is open to the public.

The memorandum outlines a list of procedures and protocols needed for the two agencies to work together and proposes the formation of the "Deep East Texas Regional Violent Crimes Task Force."

Sheriff Larry Smith said the two agencies already are working together, but the memorandum allows the county to be reimbursed for overtime its deputies work on those investigations. Smith said the county has similar agreements with the FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the DEA, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Smith estimates the measure could save the county between $10,000 and $20,000 annually, but the amount saved would depend on the number of investigations the sheriff's office participated in and the cases' complexity.

The violent crime task force would form when needed, with the goal of investigating firearm trafficking, firearm-related violent crime, gathering data and conducting undercover operations.

Its overall goal is to reduce firearm trafficking, the use of guns in criminal acts and gangs, according to the memorandum.

The force would largely operate using federal regulations and standards in its investigation methods, storage of evidence and use of informants.

Then, once the investigation is complete, the agencies would evaluate what to prosecute on a federal level and what to prosecute in state courts, according to the memorandum.

The agencies would also split asset forfeitures and seizures, based on the amount of work each agency did in the investigation.

In other business, the county commissioners will consider approving a resolution for the Tarrant County Cultural Education Facilities Finance Corporation Revenue Bonds, which would allow Christus Health to go to the market for revenue-backed bonds to finance capital projects. Christus purchased Trinity Mother Frances Hospital.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph will attend Tuesday's meeting. For updates as they happen follow @TMTFaith on Twitter.



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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.