HENDERSON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office’s new armored vehicle is unlike any other in East Texas, and is only part of the county’s recent investments in law enforcement.
The Rook, described as “an armored vehicle based on a skid steer platform that comes with several special attachments for dangerous situations,” costs about $400,000 including attachments and a gooseneck trailer to deploy the vehicle.
The sheriff’s office was reportedly denied when they tried to get a grant to pay for The Rook. According to the sheriff’s office, other county offices got involved to ensure law enforcement got the equipment.
“This is a game changer in keeping our folks safe,” said Sheriff Botie Hillhouse. “I am very thankful to the audit office for their help in getting it and the Commissioner’s Court for approving the purchase. We are the only agency in East Texas with this type of equipment right now.”
As part of another investment in law enforcement, the county contracted with a company called McKinstry last September for them to provide energy management, engineering, and design services, to assess the jail’s water usage and HVAC system with the goal of identifying opportunities to reduce operation and maintenance costs.
In March, McKinstry proposed roughly $3.1 million in improvements to the Commissioners Court that they believe could save the county nearly $350,000 per year in utility and operation costs. Before moving forward with those proposals, state law mandates a third-party review of the energy savings.
Last week, the Henderson County Commissioner’s Court selected an engineering firm to review projected energy savings from proposed upgrades to the jail following an audit of the facility.
“What this company is going to do is just review the information that McKinstry has given us so we can be sure that information is accurate,” said Pct. 3 Commissioner Chuck McHamm.
Other than The Rook, investments in Henderson County law enforcement stretch to improvements to the jail, the purchase of a new building near the jail, approval for hiring more deputies and increased pay for deputies.
“And every bit of that investment comes without debt,” said County Judge Wade McKinney.