County set to accept SB22 funding

Local law enforcement will get a boost during Tuesday’s Ector County Commissioners meeting with several agenda items dealing with donations to the Ector County Sheriff’s Office and also acceptance of state funding to bolster law enforcement.

Sheriff Mike Griffis will ask commissioners during the 10 a.m. meeting at the county annex to accept a $47,000 donation from Barnhart Bolt & Special Fasteners to the Ector County Sheriff’s Office. He will also ask commissioners to accept a $10,000 donation from Oxy to the Sheriff’s Office.

During the meeting, commissioners will also discuss approving the acceptance of the SB22 Rural Law Enforcement Grant, which will aid both the sheriff’s office and the Ector County District Attorney’s office.

Ector County Judge Dustin Fawcett said the total from the state is around $500,000 and the funding is secure for this year and next year and after that it will be up to the legislature to continue with the program meant to aid counties.

Fawcett said the issue could become a political football in the future, but he is grateful for the funding, which both the Sheriff and the DA will use to bolster salaries. Some counties are using the funding to buy needed equipment, but Fawcett said in Ector County both the Sheriff and the DA wanted the money used to up salaries for staff.

Fawcett said paperwork was submitted in late February to get the funding and they will also submit more paperwork to detail where the dollars were used. “We have to make sure employees understand that it is not a permanent funding mechanism but being able to raise salaries is important, especially with how much some local law enforcement have raised pay in the last several years.”

Fawcett said Ector County will seek more funding for equipment through Congressman August Pfluger’s community fund.

In other business, the commissioners court will:

Hear a presentation on Better Living for Texans Agent Yuremia Ramirez as the agent for Better Living for Texans for Ector/Midland counties.

Proclaim May 12-18 as National Police Week and May 15 as National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.

Approve Fawcett to the Tax Incentive Committee.

Approve an interlocal agreement between Ector County, Midland County, the City of Odessa, and the City of Midland regarding Permian Basin Interoperable Radio Communications (PBIRC) and the Permian Basin Radio Communications Committee (PBRCC).

Fawcett said this item stems from the Aug. 31, 2019, mass shooting in Odessa and Midland and gives local law enforcement a better way to work together. He said both sheriffs and both chiefs of police in the Permian Basin all work well together for the citizens of Odessa and Midland.