Rowdy Douglas has accepted the responsibility of rebuilding the Texas County Sheriff’s Department.
Douglas was sworn in Tuesday morning as the interim sheriff of Texas County. He replaces his former boss, James Sigman, who was arrested last week and faces six felony charges.
Douglas was sworn in during a brief ceremony shortly after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday by Texas County Associate Circuit Judge Doug Gaston. Douglas was accompanied by his wife, Veronica, and daughter, Reagan, who held the Bible for the swearing in.
“I’m sorry for what happened with James, but we’ve got to move on,” Douglas said. “We’ve got to rebuild every aspect of the department.”
Douglas, 33, was the department’s detective until January 2018, when he resigned to become the City of Houston’s parks director. He was one of eight deputies who resigned after Jennifer Tomaszewski, who faces the same charges as Sigman, was hired as jail administrator.
Douglas was named sheriff after the county’s legal counsel confirmed a vacancy in the office. Texas County Presiding Commissioner Fred Stenger said commissioners had received legal advice from several, and it came to its conclusion Monday. A written opinion was issued to the commission at about 11:15 a.m. Monday that confirmed the sheriff’s officeholder job was vacant.
Since last week, the commission has visited with possible candidates.
“I love this place. It’s where I wanted to come back and eventually retire,” Douglas said Tuesday afternoon. “I love the county. This is where I live and the people I know. I’m doing it for all the right reasons.”
Among Douglas’ top priorities, he said, is rebuilding the department’s roster. While there is a full jail staff, the agency has deputy and dispatch vacancies.
Douglas said Coroner Marie Lasater, who served as acting sheriff following Sigman’s arrest, addressed three vacancies by re-hiring Reuben Salazar and Brent Honeycutt. Both resigned earlier this year. She also hired Greg Ryan, a former officer with the Houston Police Department.
“Marie stepped into something she knew nothing about, as far as law enforcement, and did a good job for getting thrown into the middle of the situation,” Douglas said.
Another issue Douglas said he plans to tackle is public trust. He said the department’s call volume has steadily declined in recent months.
“We want a chance to regain the public’s trust,” said Douglas, who vows to operate a transparent department. “We’ll get everything lined out. I’ll get the right guys in here and the right dispatchers. I want people to know that they can call us.”
The county commissioners said a special election will be held in November to elect a new sheriff. Members of the executive committee of the county’s two political parties will select a nominee whose name will appear on the ballot. By state statute the candidates must be determined by Sept. 14. The county has been in consultation with the secretary of state’s office. Sigman was elected to a term that expired Dec. 31, 2020.
Douglas said he will not run for sheriff.
“I have no plans of running,” he said. “I hope whoever gets it lets me stay on.”
Douglas, a 2003 Houston High School graduate, has ties with the Texas County Sheriff’s Department dating back to when he worked as a dispatcher at age 19 for former Sheriff Carl Watson. He served as jail administrator for eight months after graduating from the sheriff’s academy before becoming a deputy.
Douglas worked two years for the Houston Police Department and then joined the South Central Drug Task Force. He said he worked closely with the sheriff’s department during his five-plus years with the agency. He returned to the sheriff’s department in 2016 and was named a detective.
Douglas said he will work hard in the coming months to make the department a strong one.
“I want this place to get back where it needs to be,” he said. “My goal is by November, whoever walks in here walks into a good department.”