Comal County elected a new sheriff in November and before being sworn in Sunday, Mark Reynolds said he had to make some very tough decisions.
Now-Sheriff Reynolds said after the election, a captain came to him and asked about rumors that the captain’s days were numbered. The captain, who shall remain nameless, said he had been contacted by someone in the county’s human resources department and they asked him about his retirement, Reynolds recounted.
“I told him that wasn’t because I told anyone in HR anything,” Reynolds said.
He said he visited the human resources woman and she said there seemed to have been a mixup because her call to the captain was about alerting his staff in case any of them planned to retire. While speaking with the woman in HR, Reynolds said he asked some questions and was told, in no uncertain terms, that then was the best time to inform staff members if he planned to let some people go once he took office.
That was a few days before Thanksgiving and it led to some very difficult decisions he had to make, Reynolds said. Three days before Thanksgiving, Reynolds issued 11 letters to people who he would not be bringing back to the CCSO in the new year, the sheriff said Wednesday.
He said the changes were necessary after he learned weeks prior that those people didn’t share his vision for the future of the agency.
“There were differences in the personnel that were here. We recognized that,” Reynolds said. “When I delivered the letters to the 11 individuals, it was difficult for me. It wasn’t political, because I didn’t think the vision of those people and that which I had for the sheriff’s office matched.”
Reynolds said he worked for years with the people who received those letters and he considered them his friends. The timing of his delivery of the slips was partly for the benefit of the recipients, the sheriff said.
He said the woman in human resources with whom he spoke notified him that some of the people he would be letting go would be eligible for retirement and informing him when he did would allow them time to handle all of the paperwork involved to ensure they received benefits in January. And for those who weren’t retirement-eligible, he wanted to give them time to begin their searches for employment while they still had a job at the CCSO, Reynolds said.
In the following weeks, he said, there has been a palpable tension in the sheriff’s office. Reynolds said on Tuesday he called a staff meeting and somehow the tension had left the building.
“That was my first time to get the supervisory staff together and give them the grand master plan and let them know how everything was going,” Reynolds said. “The atmosphere in there was relaxed. It was so nice. Some of the comments made in there made me feel so good.”
He said he hasn’t really had a transition period. Everything just abruptly changed when he took his oath as sheriff.
So some of his command staff have yet to officially take up their positions.
But, Reynolds said, he is pleased with his choices. He looks forward to working with his chief deputy whom he is hiring from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Texas Rangers. Ranger James Jones works in New Braunfels and has lived in Comal County 21 years.
Jones said he worked alongside CCSO deputies for about as long it was run by recently retired Sheriff Bob Holder, whom Reynolds immediately followed in the post. Jones said he looks forward to working for Reynolds but he, nor Reynolds, could say enough good things about the former sheriff.
Reynolds and his chief deputy hope to live up to the shoes Holder left to fill and they hope to make the people of Comal County proud in the process, Jones said.
“I think they elected the best person for the job and I know they will not regret their decision,” Jones said. “I’m hoping that together Mark and I and the guys he’s bringing into the administration will continue to make the county look good, make it safer and accomplish a lot of the goals Sheriff Holder wanted to accomplish but didn’t accomplish because he was ready to retire after nearly 50 years in law enforcement. I know that Mark and myself and all the guys who work at the sheriff’s office or are fixing to work there think he did a great job and he can’t be thanked enough for his service.”
Still, Reynolds said he plans to make some changes.
He said he plans with his command staff to go over the office’s policy book and make some revisions. He wants members of his staff to help shape and agree on the office’s policies, ones that are not bound by law. Those will take care of themselves, Reynolds said.
The sheriff said he plans to also make some changes in the way deputies patrol the county. He thinks some assets can be reallocated and moved around to help instill fear into the hearts of criminals and put a dent in some of the more frequently seen crimes in Comal County, Reynolds said.
“There’s a storm coming,” he said. “When I say a storm, we’re going to bring some assets up there and we hope there will be changes with some of our drug issues and some of our theft issues. I’m talking about within the (whole) county.”
Reynolds said using assets such as the Comal County Metro Narcotics Task Force, redeployment of his K9 unit and directed patrols are some of the ways he hopes to help alleviate crime in the county.
In the process, he said he hopes to be a visible part of the solution. Reynolds said he will be present at major crime scenes and that will help in more ways than one.
“Sheriff Holder set the bar very high as far as being out and about in the county,” Reynolds said. “If something is going on with these incidents, I want to be there. It lets the citizens know we’re there and have things under control. It also lets my people know I’m there to support them.”
And, he plans to make the office more transparent and accessible for information, the county’s top cop said.
“Not only in like the budget process but transparent in our willingness to share information,” Reynolds said. “You and I both know that in the past we’ve either been late or not (forthcoming) enough with information. I think the citizens of Comal County should be informed.”
Entering his 30th year in law enforcement, Reynolds has been a CCSO deputy for 27 years and spent three years with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office where he worked as a deputy and in corrections.
Reynolds said he will participate in the upcoming construction of the new Comal County Jail and renovations at the CCSO. The project is expected to be completed by late 2020, the last year of his first term.
He said he hopes to be around longer and spend some time in charge at the new facility and expanded office.
In the meantime, Reynolds said he will do his best to lead the office to the best of his abilities, with character, courage, honor, integrity and strength. Doing so will fulfill the duties of the office and help lead the deputies who help maintain the peace in Comal County, Reynolds said.
“This is about these people who work here,” he said. “If they enjoy working here, they can go out and serve the citizens of Comal County.”