Van Zandt County judge responds to sheriff's statement about underfunding

Van Zandt County judge responds to sheriff's statement about underfunding
Judge Kirkpatrick says the county is working toward sufficiently funding each department within Van Zandt County. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Judge Kirkpatrick says the county is working toward sufficiently funding each department within Van Zandt County. (Source: KLTV Staff)

VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Van Zandt County judge says their sheriff's department needs more deputies and equipment, but it's just not possible with their budget. This is in response to a statement issued by the Van Zandt County sheriff

“It's disappointing and it saddens me that as elected officials in Van Zandt County, we're going to start pointing fingers,” said Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick.

In a statement issued yesterday, Sheriff Michael Lindsey Ray stated, “Presently, as the result of underfunding and inadequate staffing at the Van Zandt County sheriff's office, homeowners need to take appropriate precautions to protect their families.”

“The fact that he's telling us that we have to protect ourselves is kind of scary. I don't know how to shoot a weapon. I don't own a weapon,” said Roxanne Lewis of Van Zandt County.

Residents say the sheriff's statement makes them feel uneasy, but Judge Don Kirkpatrick says that shouldn't be the case.

"You are safe in Van Zandt County. There's no need for alarm or panic or anything.Van Zandt County is a safe county to live in," he said.

KLTV stopped by the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Department twice Wednesday, but were told both times the sheriff was not available for comment.

"All the elected officials are going to have to pull together and we're going to have to work together to fix the budget problems in Van Zandt County," said Judge Kirkpatrick.

He says although the county is more than $80 million in debt, it has made efforts to improve the sheriff's department.

"Four deputies and a jailer [were] added to that department. We've also given 13 vehicles… I am very proud of our sheriff. He does a great job and the sheriff's department does a great job with what they've got to work with," said Judge Kirkpatrick.

Judge Kirkpatrick says the county is working toward sufficiently funding each department within Van Zandt County.

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