The clearance rate Sheriff Patterson is advertising makes it look like there is at least one reason to support to candidates whose campaigns have been struggling as they approach their May 29th date to face primary voters.
Bloated and deceptive clearance rate numbers would indicate that Sheriff Patterson has focused his department in a way that has the LCSO performing at a mark above the average in the state. If the numbers were not purposely inflated it would also be a boost to the campaign to keep continuity in a District Attorney’s office that has suffered one revelation after another of being more involved in politics than is acceptable.
Patterson was claiming his 40% clearance rate can be verified through Governor Perry’s office. But he, and the D.A.’s office, have been conspicuously quiet after revelations that all the numbers from the Governor’s office come directly from the sheriff’s office in each county.
Patterson has manipulated the numbers to look far better than they actually are. Patterson’s skewing of the numbers to help his re-election are partially based on closing cases in ways that keep unsolved crimes from hurting his clearance rate. There is more to it than that, but his actions clearly represent the type of politics he has practiced as a substitute for leadership. The clearance rate in actuality is close to 15%. Patterson’s decisions on how to focus the time and efforts of the resources of his department should not reflect on the efforts of the deputies who dutiful follow orders and risk their lives to protect this community.
To be fair, Patterson’s gaming of these numbers, is not likely to have involved Logan Pickett. Assistant DA Pickett has not been with the D.A.’s office very long and his inexperience (graduating law school in 2006) would tend to make any effort along this line was either solely made by the LCSO or in connection with someone more experienced in the D.A.’s office. Holding Pickett responsible for any numbers reflecting the success of the D.A.’s office while Judge Rusty Hight manipulated public perception is unwarranted also because of the timeline and his inexperience. Hight and the D.A.’s office would revisit court cases just a few days after some verdicts were made in very public venues and the convictions would sometimes take a very dramatic turn from what the public was left to expect as the lack of community oversight left the D.A.’s office and Hight to their own devices. One example was when it looked like a halfway tough sentence on a criminal found guilty of a serious sex crime was probated the next day when the courtroom was empty.
Patterson promised to be different from his opponent/predecessor and rid Liberty County of the remaining good ole boys. He won that race and within days looked the other way when evidence of FEMA fraud by County Judge Phil Fitzgerald was presented to him by law enforcement. He has not arrested or helped to remove one good ole boy from office in his very controversial tenure as Sheriff.
Patterson has been more like the person he replaced than he is prepared to admit. Patterson has said in his campaign, “If you like what you have seen from the Sheriff’s department the last three years, vote for me and you will get more of the same.”
The District Attorney’s race is likely to produce change regardless of who wins. Logan Pickett’s inexperience would leave him heavily dependent on Joe Warren. Warren and Pickett are likely to continue the practices (as best they can) they have learned as they marched behind Mike Little. If assistant County Attorney Karen McNair wins, voters can expect to see the kind of work she is doing for the county now - less politics and more work.