ABILENE, Texas - Preparing to take office as Taylor County sheriff on Jan. 1, Ricky Bishop says he believes "morale has come up a little bit" in the department.
"I think the mood has changed in the department and everybody knows we're going to be moving forward," Bishop told KTXS on Thursday.
Bishop won the runoff race in July for the Republican nomination against incumbent Les Bruce and did not have a Democratic opponent in Tuesday's general election.
Asked about his vision for the department, Bishop said he is dead set on providing more extensive training for deputies, even giving them a chance to move up.
"The priority is training and it's going to be the jail and security at the jail," Bishop said. "That's the No. 1 priority and then we'll move the training over into the Sheriff's Office."
Inmates who escaped from the Taylor County Jail during Bruce's term were a hot button issue during this year's runoff between Bishop and Bruce. On Thursday, Bishop said some of those escapes were preventable.
"There's been some officers that haven't been given the opportunity to move from basic to intermediate," Bishop said. "I want to get that going at the jail to where we can get instead of just having a basic corrections officers watching inmates.
"I want to get these guys their intermediate classes and maybe get a few people in some specialized training in case something does happen at the jail."
Bishop said many of those who work at the jail are only teenagers who need to be trained to deal with "career criminals."
"They [inmates] know how to get over on these 18, 19-year-old officers. So I want to better train these officers to see what these inmates are doing and try to catch them before something does happen."
Bishop is already thinking about the department's upcoming budget but cannot yet comment on personnel changes.
"Everybody is still going have a job come January. What capacity their job is going be, I'm still working on that," Bishop said. "I think everybody's excited. I'm excited and I'm ready to get started."
Bishop said he also wants new equipment for the department because many things are outdated. He also wants to get computers for department vehicles and to overturn Bruce's policy that prohibits deputies from speeding to catch law breakers who are going over the speed limit.
KTXS has tried repeatedly to contact Bruce about his future plans but he has not responded.
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