Sheriff Mooney running for second term in 2024
Last updated 7/4/2023 at 4pm
Orange County Sheriff Lane Mooney is announcing on Wednesday he will be running in 2024 for his second term in office. Two other candidates have already announced they are challenging the incumbent in the March Republican primary race.
Mooney said he is campaigning on his record of accomplishments during his first term, including using a large savings of drug forfeiture money from a past administration to buy all patrol deputies new vehicles.
Mooney said the vehicles were a priority because he wants to keep the patrol deputies safe and secure. He recalls that in the past, when he was a patrol deputy, his assigned car had holes in the floorboard. Water and mud would splash inside when he drove through puddles after a rain.
Now, he said, patrol deputies not only have new vehicles, the vehicles are equiped with computer systems plus new rifles and shotguns. "They guys are ready to perform work and get home safely," he said.
Getting deputies home safely to their families is a priority for Mooney, he said.
He's also interested in the safety of the community and he has improved the SWAT team. After the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last year, Mooney studied the actions, or lack of, by law enforcement officers.
He said he followed the online critique that former Green Beret Michael Glover did of the shooting. Glover has a training school for SWAT and Mooney hired him, once again using seized drug forfeiture money, to come train the sheriff's office SWAT. They practiced in the former Baptist Orange Hospital building.
The sheriff said since then, his deputies have visited schools to learn the layouts of rooms so they can be prepared for a possible school shooting.
But visiting the schools isn't only for scouting a possible emergency. Mooney said his deputies often visit schools to meet teachers and students. Mauriceville Elementary School has "Coffee with the Cops." Teachers bring snacks for the deputies, who visit in the morning and drink coffee with the teachers. Then the officers are out in the hallways to greet the students as they go by.
Not only are the patrol vehicles new, he has also added more patrols through the county. And if someone has a complaint about speeders on a rural road, he formed a traffic division to patrol during the speeding hours. If needed, the traffic officers will give tickets.
The Orange County Jail has passed state jail inspections, but Mooney is most proud of implementing a mental health program. "Every jail in Texas is a mental health facility" because of the number of people arrested who are having mental problems.
He has worked with the Spindletop Center, the regional state center for mental health. They have developed a program for Orange County inmates to get help.
Also, he pointed out that soon after he took office, a hurricane was coming and the department had to evacuate to Henderson. The storm damaged the jail and he found a place for 100 inmates in a jail 400 miles away. Luckily, the cost was only $55 a day for housing, feeding, and guarding each prisoner. Now the cost would be at least $90 a day, he said.
The county judge and commissioners court worked with him to make sure the jail, which was insured, was one of the first county buildings fixed, he said.
In addition, Mooney worked with the deputies union and they signed their first contract in several years after failures in negotiations.
Mooney wants everyone to know he has an "open door" to his office and will answer phone calls from citizens. He even returns those phone calls, if at all possible, when a message is left.
Mooney and his wife, Michelle, grew up in Vidor and still live there. He said he went to a Houston tech school, but then learned he could become a law enforcement officer by attending the Lamar University Police Academy. He went and graduated in 1987. Ever since then, he has worked in law enforcement at different agencies and has been assigned to a variety of duties.
The couple have two grown sons. The sheriff and his sons are trained in Jui Jitsu. One is in Houston competing in fighting, the other helps run the family's Jui Jitsu school in Vidor. Mooney said he has quit competive Jui Jitsu fighting.
The 2024 primary races will be held on Tuesday, March 5. So far, two challengers have announced they are also running for the Republican nomination for the November 2024 general election.
Ronald Dischler is a lieutenant with the Beaumont Police Department and a longtime resident of Orange County. Another veteran law officer, Mike Sanchez of Vidor, is also running.
The first day of filing for the primary races will be Saturday, November 11, 2023, with the filing deadline Monday, December 11, at 6 p.m.