BELTON — Jim Reed, executive director of the Central Texas Council of Governments, apprised the organization’s executive committee Thursday of work on a regional law enforcement academy and ongoing plan to withdraw the council from the state’s 911 funding mechanism.
The executive committee is composed of mayors, commissioners and county judges from Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Milam, Mills and San Saba counties.
Reed reported on the council’s efforts to create a regional law enforcement academy, which has been in the works since January.
The distribution formula for any state funding the council can secure has yet to be finalized, Reed said in March. At the time of that meeting, San Saba County Judge Byron Theodosis asked Reed if the state will have any problems with the council acting as the regional academy.
“We’ve got an appointment scheduled to talk to them about it,” Reed said.
At this month’s meeting, Reed said he has a meeting scheduled with Gov. Rick Perry’s office to discuss the “funding drawdown” for the regional law enforcement academy.
When he first presented the topic, Reed informed committee members of the complicated history law enforcement academies have had in the region.
“Central Texas College used to have certification as the regional academy,” Reed said at the January meeting. “But over time, the quality of instruction began to slip, so Killeen and Temple opened their own academies.”
Central Texas College wants to “rebuild their criminal justice department” and re-enter the world of law enforcement academies by offering the jailers course, Reed said.
Reed said in February that for a regional law enforcement academy to be recognized by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the state agency responsible for certifying law enforcement training, it currently has to offer full-time peace officer and jailer courses.
“Temple PD wants to do the full-time academy without the jailer courses and Central Texas College wants to do the jailer course,” Reed said.
At the committee’s March meeting he proposed, and the council unanimously agreed, that the council of governments would “raise the regional academy flag.”
“The COG will be the regional academy and act as a pass-through agency to pull down state funding,” Reed said at the time. “We’ll distribute it to Temple Police Department and Central Texas College.”
The plan to remove the council’s seven counties from the state 911 funding system has been in the works for months.
In December, Reed told the executive committee that it was in the region’s best interests to begin the process of withdrawing from the Texas Commission on State Emergency Communication.
Under the current model, Reed said the funds generated in the council’s seven-county region via the monthly 50-cent 911 surcharge added to every phone bill in Texas goes to the Texas Commission on State Emergency Communication before being returned to the area.
The state returns between 28 cents and 35 cents to the area. The discrepancy between what is paid in to the state and what is paid out to the council translates to about $3 million a year being withheld from the Central Texas area.
If the council were to leave the state system, it would raise the amount of money available for 911 operations from $4 million per year to $7 million.