Recycling of everything from newspapers and aluminum cans to batteries and even cell phones has increased over the last few decades, but a local law enforcement official and a county commissioner may have found some uncharted territory.
When Pct. 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden took office a year ago, he inherited a cramped space in the East Montgomery County Annex in New Caney, with limited options for holding suspects during processing.
What a difference a year can make…
The building, which is also home to satellite offices of the Texas Department of Public Safety office, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, also has a county jail facility in the building and originally contained the Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace offices and courtroom.
But, in 2008, Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts and staff moved to the former location of the R.B. Tullis Library, which is a building behind the annex. That move freed up 4,000 square feet of space. The annex is currently undergoing major remodeling, dividing and redistributing the extra space among the law enforcement agencies.
Since the Hayden administration began, the “Men in Black” have made a name for themselves with drug busts, warrant roundups and countless other activities that placed suspects in their office including providing bailiffs for Judge Metts. The JP court also frequently contributes to the number of suspects that pass through the Pct. 4 Office.
“We had a need for some type of holding cell for prisoners we bring in and process for booking before they’re transported over to the jail,” Hayden said.
That need was answered by Pct. 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart, who had some metal cages that once housed and protected vending machines at a nearby park but were no longer in use. Upon closer examination of the cages, Hayden determined they more than filled the bill. Since they are only for temporary confinement, the cells are not required to meet the same standards as facilities where suspects are held for more than 72 hours.
“They were already fabricated, had roofs and floors, and we were able to bring them and have a local welder do minor modifications and put them into use at office,” Hayden said.
In the end, Hayden and Rinehart were able to place two secure 4’x 4’ holding cells in a newly enlarged area, with a completion cost of only $600.
The cells can hold four average size suspects and if the need arises, additional suspects can be seated around the cells and handcuffed to the bars.
Hayden said holding cells were uncommon in Montgomery County, and most agencies simply handcuffed suspects to chairs. Two benches served that purpose in the Pct. 4 office until the new cells were installed. They were near the backdoor and near the deputies, making the new setup far more secure.
The cells became operational a couple of weeks ago and have been well-received by officers and suspects alike.
Chief Deputy Barry Welch said the new cells were better for the suspects, and allowed officers more security should they need to step out of the room to receive a fax or go to the restroom.
“People are a lot more comfortable and more likely to be cooperative,” Welch said.