Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith is starting a new tradition, he's set up a series of town hall meetings to reach out to the community.
The first meeting was held Tuesday night in the Whitehouse High School cafeteria.
Sheriff Smith started with a presentation about the vision he has for the department, including higher standards for his deputies. He also talked about the departments achievements, such as adding more deputies to the streets, having a better focus on drug enforcement and major crimes, and new tools for training.
People at the meeting were asked to fill out index cards with any questions or concerns they had for the sheriff. Those index cards were taken to the front of the room so the questions were anonymous. Sheriff Smith says he hopes that incourages people to ask what they want without being embarrassed.
People in the audience asked questions about their right to bear arms, how the department plans to make sure high quality officers are hired, and a few had questions about promises Sheriff Smith made when he took office.
Sheriff Smith says he hopes these meetings create better communication between his department and the people they serve.
"I hope what the outcome is to improve upon the dialog, the two-way dialog, between us and the citizens, where they don't feel hesitant if they need us to call and they know who to call and we'll get those questions answered and improve on the functionality of the sheriff's office for them because it is their sheriff's office," says Sheriff Smith.
People at the meeting said they had never been invited to a town hall meeting and are happy Sheriff Smith is following through on some of his campaign promises.
"Nobody really likes surprises, we like to know what's going on and it's a whole lot easier for you to get tax dollars from me if I know what it's about instead of finding out the cow's already out of the gate," said Dan Browder.
Five more town hall meetings are planned. Sheriff Smith says the next meeting will be sometime next month in Tyler.