Runnels County sheriff Carl Squyres has been with the sheriff’s department as either a deputy or the sheriff for almost 20 years. Squyres won election in 2016 when longtime sheriff, Bill Baird, retired after 33-years in office.
Since his time in office, Squyres has worked to increase the safety of the sheriff department employees, jailers, dispatchers and the community he serves. CopSync is one of the most significant advances for the Runnels County Sheriff’s Department. Squyres commented about it in a previous article for the Runnels County Register, “Technology has been our biggest improvement. We now have computers in all of the cars and CopSync. Each car also has a printer and DL scanner. Everything is now computerized. We got CopSync through a grant written by chief deputy Steven Gray. It’s really helped us out a lot. They can basically do everything in their car that they need to do.”
The sheriff’s department has been some noteworthy arrests since Squyres has been the sheriff. These arrests include the Capital Murder arrest of Thomas Peiser in Miles. Peiser was sentenced to 3 life sentences on September 20th, 2019 for the murder of Tony Romo and two other related charges. In one year he and his deputies made 181 arrests in the county. His deputies also recovered tens of thousands of dollars in stolen property last year.
Squyres gave his highlights for 2019, “Under my administration the Sheriff’s Office has had many convictions of criminals in Runnels County in 2019, including murders, sex offenders and drug offenders. My deputies have also worked hand-in-hand with State and Federal Agencies to investigate the criminal element in Runnels County and surrounding counties to prosecute and convict these offenders.
Squyres also spoke about the challenges, “Without a doubt the biggest challenge is hiring and retaining qualified law enforcement personnel. The Commissioners Court has given my Office 5 Deputy positions to cover 1000sq miles and more than 10,000 citizens. The Sheriff’s Office is also the lowest paid law enforcement agency in Runnels County.” According to Texas County Information, Squyres is in the lower 25% of salaries for sheriffs in counties with populations between 5,000 and 24,999 people. “The Sheriff’s Office has only had 4 Deputies for the last 6 months or so, because of the low pay and retention policies of Runnels County. As you can imagine, with the workload these deputies are expected to do daily and the low pay they receive, it is increasingly difficult to hire and keep good qualified deputies. I hope the Citizens of Runnels County will support me as I work with the Commissioners Court to rectify this situation.”
Squyres oversees the budget for more than just the sheriff’s department; he also oversees the jail budget and dispatching service budget. For the FY2020 year, the jail budget is $1,218,604.42; the sheriff department’s budget is $557,881.92; the dispatching service budget is $343,445.71. That is a combined budget of $2,219,932.05.
In addition to their addition of CopSync, the department has also added other technology, “My administration has made huge leaps in technology since I took office in 2017. We have added CopSync to all patrol cars and dispatch, making communication within the Sheriff’s Office as well as other local agencies and agencies across the State of Texas seamless. This system also makes our deputies much safer, using GPS to constantly update deputies positions in case they require assistance. We also added a new records management system to the Sheriff’s Office itself, as well as a new jail management system at the jail and a computer aided dispatch system in the dispatch center, all of which we received through grants. My administration is currently working with the West Central Texas Council of Governments to apply for a grant from the State of Texas to upgrade our radio system infrastructure throughout the County, which has had no upgrades in many, many years.
If you attend any event in the county, you’ll find Squyres and his deputies there. He and his deputies participate in Hallowfest, the Party in the Park BBQ cook-off in Ballinger, DoveFest in Winters, Meet Me At The Square BBQ cook-off in Rowena as well as National Night Out, the Cotton Festival in Miles and the numerous parish festivals, “Runnels County is a small close knit county, I want every citizen to know me and my deputies. I want to foster a good relationship between county Law Enforcement and our citizens.”
Squyres said that illegal drugs continue to present challenges, “Drugs are without a doubt our greatest challenge. The drug trade effects almost every other aspect of crime, from thefts to homicides. With a force when fully staffed of only 5 deputies it is impossible to effectively combat the drug trade. However, with my background in narcotics investigations, my administration has contacts with other state and federal agencies that assist us in combating these criminal elements.
Squyres spoke about hiring quality employees and retaining them, “As I stated before, I intend to lobby the County Commissioners for a pay and retention policy for our county deputies, jailer’s and dispatch staff. Law Enforcement can be the greatest liability a county must face. Let’s face the facts; some in law enforcement have NO business doing this job. Those individuals not only do a poor job for the citizens they are hired to serve, but many times end up costing counties millions of dollars in lawsuits. You get what you pay for and we as a county are quickly headed towards only being able to hire those officers.”
The sheriff has a message for the citizens of Runnels County and the employees of the departments that he oversees, “I would like the citizens of Runnels County to know the Runnels County deputies, correctional officers and dispatchers are all incredibly dedicated to Runnels County and its citizens. They do not receive the pay or respect they deserve. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all from the bottom of my heart for what they do for us, the citizens of Runnels County.