KAUFMAN COUNTY, Texas — The Kaufman County Commissioners’ Court approved a new extra patrol services contract for the Windmill Farms neighborhood during their Monday, November 13, 2017, meeting.

Windmill Farms residents, through approval of their Freshwater Supply Districts 1B and 1C, had previously contracted with the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office for extra patrol in their community, in addition to standard patrol services.

The previous contract was set to expire September 30, 2017, and the boards began the process of reviewing the contract, ultimately deciding to open the contract up to bids for other area law enforcement agencies, according to 1C Board Secretary Jason Kaup who was assigned liaison of the contract.

The inter-local agreement presented to the commissioners’ court calls for one full-time deputy and one part-time deputy from the Kaufman County Precinct 2 Constable’s Office for a total of 60 hours of extra patrol, up from 40 in the previous contract. Pct. 2 Constable Jason Johnson said two current reserve officers, Steven Hoops and Guadalupe Frias, will be moved to full-time and part-time, respectively, to fulfill the terms of the contract.

Johnson also told commissioners the costs associated with the contract, approximately $114,963 for salaries, benefits, and vehicle related expenses, among other things, would be paid for by the water boards and would be no cost to the county.

The contract expires September 30, 2018, and has one-year automatic renewal. Any cost changes associated with the contract each year must be submitted 60-days prior to its expiration.

The commissioners’ court unanimously approved the contract.

The move and bid process wasn't without controversy.

In opening the process to other bids, Kaup cited residents’ concerns about some of the contract terms and, more importantly, accountability in fulfilling patrol time under the contract.

Concerns only intensified when the contract was terminated amid the bid process on its expiration date instead of continuing month-to-month as residents had hoped for while bid contracts could be vetted and approved by the water boards.

The sheriff’s office said continuing the contract month-to-month would hinder the department’s hiring efforts and could have potentially jeopardized an assigned deputy's position with any changes in the contract.

In an open letter to the residents of Windmill Farms, Sheriff Bryan Beavers said the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office would continue to respond to calls, emergencies, and patrol the Windmill Farms neighborhood.

“We cannot dedicate 8 hours of extra patrol solely to the Windmill Farms Community, but we will remain a presence just as we do and have done in other areas and neighborhoods in Kaufman County,” he said.

Amid concerns the sheriff’s office would no longer perform criminal investigations in Windmill Farms, Chief Deputy Rodney Evans says the sheriff’s office will continue to perform those duties, among other duties, currently performed by the department.

“We will continue to provide our service out there, as always, nothing will change,” Evans said.

Evans also said the commissioners’ court recently approved raises for the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to address retention issues. The implementation of the raises is expected to resolve those issues and fill much-needed vacant positions.