Thursday, February 23, 2012

A tale of two jails and the peoples' law enforcement

Waco – Two lawmen with diametrically opposed views shared the stump at the Wardlaw Training Center in the industrial park shaped by the city and county governments. They appeared before a cross section of the decision makers in politics and business and finance who helped grow that industrial park on the prairie just south of Hwy. 6.

Several hundred attended the McLennan Republican Women's Club Candidate Forum.

On the one hand, we have an old-time Deputy U.S. Marshal. Parnell McNamara is a fourth-generation “law” who walks with the bowlegged strut of a working cowhand; he goes nowhere without a 10 or 20X Silver Belly beaver perched on his silvered head, and actually commands a world-renowned posse of like-minded lawmen.

They include his brother Mike and a favored sidekick, Matt Cawthon, who retired from the Texas Rangers and joined the Marshal's Service's fugitive warrant squad, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, and a passel of other pragmatic law and order men.

They not only made the cover of “Texas Monthly” in a rave take-out written by none other than the celebrated dean of Texas crime reporters, Gary Cartwright, but they tracked down one of the most hated and feared mad dog killers of women and helpless youths in recent memory, Kenneth McDuff, a dark soul who murdered, was paroled , killed again and went on a desperate spree before he got his date with the needle.

If that don't beat all, they did it on national television, with the help of the host of “America's Most Wanted,” John Walsh.

This critter says the County Sheriff is the “people's law enforcement” because FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, ATF – all the alphabet soup types – the State Troopers, city cops, and even the hallowed Texas Rangers, are appointed.

Only the Sheriff is elected by we the people.

He's right. Look it up. Get your state constitution down and check out the duties and powers of this official, the shireve, with his or her 1000-year history of English common-law tradition. You will come away a changed citizen with a new understanding on yourself.

Here is an official who can, in theory, convene courts, grand juries, launch investigations, conduct auctions of seized and foreclosed property, serve warrants and all criminal and civil process, detain and incarcerate the accused, indicted and convicted – and the list goes on and on.

What does Parnell McNamara want to do? Listen to what he told the people.

First of all, there used to be such a thing as a drug task force. It's gone, now. After Marshal McNamara retired, his friends and neighbors came to him for help, and he learned the sad truth. There used to be a place of resort for this thorny problem; it is no more, he says. He has no idea why. He says that in 32 years of transporting, tracking down and arresting criminals, serving process for the federal court system, and all the other things a Deputy U.S. Marshal does, most of the troubles he saw stemmed from drugs.

Today, he and his neighbors are on their own.

Secondly, a lot of people get killed and – guess what – their killers are never apprehended.

An elderly couple who lived in an opulent neighborhood called for help twice on a dark night in 2001 and still got beaten to death for their trouble. A female sales clerk at a Shell station on Interstate was found dead behind the counter. He killer or killers are yet to be apprehended. There are 50 such cases in Waco, alone – cold as last year's ashes, and clues are going stale by the minute.

He has a remedy for both these things. Put a special squad to work to detect and arrest the perpetrators, then prepare the cases that will put them behind bars.

Finally, leadership in the McLennan County government, its Sheriff's Department and the investment community decided to privatize two of the county's lockups. They built a new one at a cost of nearly $50 million. The old one next door to the courthouse sits empty.

Marshal McNamara says he will never tolerate a privately run jail in his county, if he can just get that badge pinned on and get busy. It just doesn't work that way in the McNamara world view. He didn't just say it once; he has declared it repeatedly.

On the other hand, we have Chief Deputy Randy Plemons. He says his staff of 370-some-odd people are doing a wonderful job, that the jail is “another city” that requires 3,000 meals a day and a thorough cleaning on a routine basis, and he can't say enough that is good about the people who staff his department.

He bragged that the jail passed its latest inspection by state officials “with flying colors” after flunking three in a row. What's more, Federal Bureau of Prisons inspectors required nearly 100 federal inmates to be removed to another facility because of deficiencies in health care services and filthy conditions involving raw sewage standing in the floors of some of the cells.

He is heavily certified and trained, even holds a certification from the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia. You can hear a digest of his remarks here. Just click on the little arrow on the left.


  1. Correction, Plemons did not get a certification from the FBI Academy as he would have everyone believe. He fails to meet the minimum qualifications to attend the FBI or any federal academy, unlike McNamara. Plemons attended the continuing education academy for law enforcement that partners with the FBI, called the FBI National Academy Associates. Although supposed by the FBI, it is not even always taught by FBI Agents or Instructors, hint the "Associates" part.

    But knwoing this I can understand why Plemons continues to lie and mislead the public on his qualifications. He brags about his qualifications, but they are only on paper the county paid for and have never been used. He brags about his experience, but his experience is nothing more then teaching DARE classes to kids and watching his current boss run the department. Most fans of CSI have as much law enforcement experience as Plemons. Considering I have actually stopped a robbery by benefit of my 2nd Amendment right that the Lynch/Plemons administration have fought, I have more experience then Plemons. I guess that's why they opposed citizens protecting themselves to keep them from having more experience stamping out crime then our Chief Deputy.

    Oh, and I don't think the CEC controlled jail passed or has had another inspection since it failed the last one earlier this month. The county run jail passed their inspection, while the private jail keeps failing theirs, despite the alledged "inspections" by the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. If it did pass, then that will mean they have almost achieved the landmark of being in compliance for 25% of the time in its short 2 years of existence.

  2. Goodness gracious, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. Why don't you tell us what you really think? - The Legendary

  3. Didn't Plemons refer to the Hwy 6 Jail as a "Hotel, we sometimes call a jail..." when speaking to GOPisForMe ( )...?

    I think the inspection reports certify this is no 'hotel' by ANYONE'S standards but Randy Plemons!

    Is he ever going to take his job seriously?

  4. So the Sheriff's Department is made up of Patrol, CID, the Jail, Warrants, and Records. Plemons says that he would not ask anyone to do something he hasn't done. Being a DARE Officer until he became Cheif Deputy means that he's never worked in Patrol, CID, the Jail, Warrants, or Records. What qualified him to be Chief Deputy having only been a DARE Officer? Is he trying to say that managing the Sheriff's Department is like talking to school children? If I were them, I'd be a little offended at that, especially coming from a guy who has never walked in their shoes.

  5. I think Parnell Mcnamara would work hard at keeping everyone SAFE. He always has tried and been sucessful in capturng criminals that have now been executed along with help from his brother,Mike,former Assistant DA,Bill Thompson and many others who care like Parnel does. Voting for Parnell would mean a safr place for all.