LPR sits down with Caldwell County Sheriff Mike Lane
By Kristen Meriwether, Editor LPR
If you walk past Caldwell County Sheriff Mike Lane’s office, you will notice it is nearly empty. Don’t worry, the new Sheriff hasn’t skipped town after just three weeks on the job. He’s just waiting on new furniture to arrive.
He doesn’t even have a real desk or chair yet, but already Sheriff Lane is making changes. Physical offices are being moved around, the overburdened evidence retention room is being cleaned up, and new faces have been brought in to bring fresh perspectives.
Sheriff Lane, who has worked in Caldwell County law enforcement for 20 years, hired Jon Craigmile to be his Chief Deputy. Craigmile joined Caldwell County on Jan. 1 after retiring from the Hays County Sheriff’s Office after 28 years. He watched Hays County blossom from a sleepy college town to the bigger city it is today, something Lane sees as an asset.
“We are at a point where we are about to explode in population,” Sheriff Lane said in a wide-ranging Jan. 15 interview with LPR. “I wanted to bring somebody in who knew where we were headed and was ready for the direction we needed to go.”
Sheriff Lane has already seen some of the growing pains a developing community goes through. New neighborhoods in Lytton Springs, Dale, Taylorsville, Uhland, and Maxwell have brought an influx of people to those parts of the county. Consequently, the Sheriff’s Office has seen an uptick of calls to the area, primarily for people discharging firearms.
“It’s their culture that you fire off guns when you are excited about stuff. That is affecting a lot of the folks that live up in that area,” Lane said. “We are doing everything we can, trying to put deputies up there as much as we can, but with the call volume we have…it’s a domino effect.”
The Sheriff’s Office is budgeted to have four deputies, one of whom is designated animal control, and one sergeant per shift. As of the interview the department wasn’t quite fully staffed, but Lane said he hoped to get the office to full staff quickly.
While campaigning for office, Sheriff Lane said he heard from many residents who wanted to see greater transparency with the office.
“We’ve never had anything to hide by any stretch of the imagination, but we are trying to involve the community a little bit more,” Sherriff Lane said. “We are trying to answer the requests of the citizens.”
The former Public Information Officer, William Miller, moved on to become a criminal investigator and Sheriff Lane move Sergeant Hannah Garrett into the role.
Communication from the office has increased considerably. In the month of January, the office has put out more press releases on incidents around the county. When LPR made a request to send the county arrests with the weekly blotter report, the request was granted and began the following week.
The Sheriff’s Office had to adapt to a world with COVID in their 301-bed facility.
“We are very fortunate,” Lane said. “We have had several cases in the jail—mostly employees—but from the very first day, we have done everything we can.”
Sheriff Lane said all employees are required to wear masks at all times, and inmates are required to wear masks in all common areas. They have cut down on in-person education and church services, and no longer allow volunteers to enter the facility.
Even though they have contracts with Hays County to house inmates, they are not doing so now. They also got rid of a lot of the lower offense inmates, and are limiting the amount of U.S. Marshall Service detainees.
“We are trying to keep our numbers down,” Sheriff Lane said. “The less people we have in there, the less risk.”
While campaigning Sheriff Lane promised to have substations for his officers to use while in more remote parts of the county.
Only three weeks on the job, and the ball is already rolling on at least two of those. The substation in McMahan near Whizzerville is under construction with Lane reporting electrical was about to be run to the facility.
The substation in Lytton Springs will be housed in the building shared by SH130 Concession Company and TXDOT. The deal is awaiting to be finalized but expected to be approved.
Sheriff Lane said he is working on space in Maxwell and Luling, but nothing has been finalized yet.
Other than utility and internet costs, the building and construction will cost taxpayers nothing.
Patrolling the River
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year tubers floating down the San Marcos River have created a lot of revenue for local businesses. But it has also created a lot of problems: sexual assaults, drownings, overdoses, and alcohol poisonings to name a few.
For the last several seasons the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office has been under contract to provide law enforcement every Friday and Saturday in the area, reducing the call volume.
“It is still not perfect,” Sheriff Lane said. “But the call volume in that area has gone down significantly.”
There wasn’t much activity in the 2020 season due to COVID, and no one is certain what this summer will look like. LPR asked if the Sheriff’s Office has plans to increase the number of deputies on the river in 2021.
“Every year we go back and negotiate and figure out what it’s going to take,” Sheriff Lane said. “We have no intention, but if the folks down there want more, then that’s what we will do.”