Pickering: OC Jail operating in safe manner

Published 1:05 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader


Terry Pickering, a former Sheriff, currently with Texas Association of Counties Risk Management, a consulting group working with Orange County, provided a summary of the audit completed in March 2017 by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards of the Orange County Sheriff Office jail operations and procedures during the Tuesday Commissioners Court meeting.

To his knowledge, the Orange County Jail has never failed an audit and continues to operate in a safe manner in keeping with Texas jail operations.

Pickering had high praise of the results saying, “We don’t always see this amount and depth of training at Sheriff Offices in the state. I am impressed by the considerable amount of training, well above the norm.”

Pickering went on to say, “It is interesting to note, Jail Administrator Captain Harmon has assigned training topics at shift briefing for his supervisors to go over with their staff. The Sheriff Office is taking proactive steps in the medical area as well.”

Orange County Jail has recently hired a full time nurse and is in negotiations to hire a full time psychiatrist. Judge Stephen Brint Carlton congratulated Sheriff Keith Merritt for the excellent results followed by Merritt who thanked the staff of Texas Association of Counties and gave praise to the jail staff.

“We have a wonderful staff that just makes it all run smoothly year over year over year,” Merritt said. “The job is very demanding but the staff shows up every day and does their job very well.”

In other business, Commissioner Barry Burton said Claiborne West Park still needs some critical mechanical infrastructure to arrive and be installed for restroom operations before the park can be reopened. A December first opening date was hoped for however the open date has been pushed back for several more weeks until the restrooms are fully operational.

No action was taken today for discussion and possible action approving a Texas Enterprise Zone project in Orange County. Discussion and possible action will be taken up by the Court at a later date yet to be determined. A Texas Enterprise Zone is defined in a July 2015 brochure as, “…an economic development tool for local communities to partner with the State of Texas to promote job creation and significant private investment that will assist economically distressed areas of the state.” The program is managed by the Texas Economic Development Division within the Office of the Governor.