Washington County Sheriff Otto Hanak told county commissioners on Tuesday how the sheriff's office is handling an increase in crime, higher costs and ongoing staffing shortages.

Rising crime, an increase in costs and continued staffing issues are making life difficult for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

During Tuesday’s Washington County Commissioners meeting, Sheriff Otto Hanak said the county has seen a “surge of criminals” coming from the Harris and Travis County areas.  He said sheriff’s deputies are getting into car chases every week as of late, including in cases like last week where a report of stolen catalytic converters in Brenham led to a pursuit into Carmine.

Hanak said Washington County has become a target.



Hanak believes a major factor in the uptick in criminal activity is an absence of state troopers watching the roadways.  He said addressing that will free up deputies to focus on other calls.



Meanwhile, Hanak said rising costs “are out of control”, particularly with costs required to run the jail and care for inmates.  At the same time, the sheriff’s office continues to struggle to hire new staff; according to Hanak, out of 23 total positions, including 19 jailers and four sergeants, the sheriff’s office has eight vacancies, including four jail supervisor positions.

Hanak said staffing shortages are not limited to Washington County, but the lack of progress in hiring staff remains frustrating.



In addition, the lack of staff contributes to high expenses for transporting inmates to Grimes and Waller counties to be held in their jails.  Hanak said from March 2021 to April 30th of this year, the county has spent $225,960 on those inmate transportation agreements, not including costs of transporting inmates to and from court each week.

Hanak said the jail currently houses 68 inmates and has the capacity to hold 177, so while it could take on inmates from other counties for additional revenue, doing so would only cause further problems for already limited staff.

Hanak said there may not be an end in sight or a real answer available today, but the sheriff’s office will continue to do the best it can for the county.

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  1. Could we add some jail cells in the EMS substations around the county Someone is always there they say & they can cook & watch a few extra folks

  2. Public safety is important but what about our EMS which also needs additional budget support for the second helipad and water rescue boat for the Lake Somerville substation!? Many of us feel EMS requires equity in funds if the county decides to increase spending.

  3. Mabey we could add a cell or two in all the EMS stations around the county. They claim there will be someone stationed there all the time anyway & they could watch them & cook for them.

  4. Of course. This has been an issue for many years.
    Give the Sherriff’s Department more money.
    Take that money from ANYWHERE ELSE!
    The amount of waste in the city and county is a real thing. How much did it cost to build the bathrooms at the baseball park???
    More than you would think, in the over $1,000,000. For bathrooms with curved roofs?? Wasted tax dollars!
    The Sherriff’s are the County.
    Brenham is in the County.
    Why would we not pay them top dollar, in Washington County, ” The Birth Place of Texas”???
    It seems that every other entity gets upgraded.
    Why not the Sherriff’s Department???

    1. Stop funding all kinds of wasteful things the EMS director wants for a for a county this size with no interstate and a new facility with the helicopter and boats and whatever else the Director wants so he will have a station right by his home. Give the Sheriff what he needs all of his requirements seem reasonable. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure not the other way around. Get it?

    2. I bet if the Sheriff asked the EMS Director, he could get anything he wanted!

  5. Pass a bond election like the school board tries, I bet people would vote for more county law enforcement than new schools.

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