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Armed Civilians Program in Texas

April 28, 2002

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BAYTOWN, Texas (AP) _ A local sheriff is being criticized for letting armed civilians ride on patrol with deputies.

``The days of the Wild West are over,″ said Larry Watts, chief of staff of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. ``To deputize citizens who’ve had no training is a poor police policy. Taxpayers should insist this does not happen. The sheriff should be ashamed.″

``Why would they take a civilian and put him on the street and threaten his life?″ said Chambers County Commissioner Bill Wallace.

Chambers County Sheriff Monroe Kreuzer defends the program he created, saying that while the volunteers are not law enforcement officers, they are licensed to carry concealed handguns.

``It’s an added advantage to have that civilian with the officer,″ Kreuzer told county commissioners last week. ``If the officer gets in trouble, it’s another warm body there.″

There are no rules prohibiting citizens, armed or unarmed, from riding with police officers, said Steve Myers, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

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