Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman established a brand new unit that exclusively focuses on DWIs throughout the county.
Hickman, who has over 44 years of service under his belt after graduating from the Houston Police Department Training Academy in 1971, is aiming to eliminate Harris County’s bad record of drunk drivers. Harris County currently holds the record of having the most DWI related deaths in the entire United States. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration notes that last year the county saw 150 alcohol-related driving deaths.
The Sheriff’s Office’s brand new unit will consist of six deputies who will patrol on their own. Each deputy will have the authority to pull over drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated and conducting their own investigation. The majority of their time will likely be spent assisting their colleagues who have not had as much training. This unit will operate throughout all of Harris County, and if it’s successful, Hickman will add more deputies as time goes on.
The Harris County Sheriff admitted that, of course, it will take time to see how the unit works out in terms of how effective the deputies are, as well as how the unit’s deployment and enforcement strategies work out. Once the office has the time and data to evaluate the proficiency of the unit, they’ll be able to talk about a possible expansion.
The Houston Police Department has had a similar unit for years called the HPD DWI Task Force. Earlier this year, some of the officers from the DWI Task Force joined the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and other law enforcement agencies to premier a video-taped experiment of intoxicated drivers.
Sheriff Hickman is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 2005. He officially became the Sheriff of Harris County back in May of 2015, when he was appointed to the position by the Commissioners Court. He also holds the distinction of being named Constable of the Year on three different occasions: in 2006 and 2013 by the National Constables and Marshals Association, and once again in 2007 by the State’s Justices of the Peace and Constable Association.