AUSTIN, Texas - Since his swearing in, Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said he has been fighting to rid the county of any stigma associated with law enforcement there. He was sworn on Jan. 1 and said he has already begun changing some things.
“Reorganization of the whole office. What I mean by that is we've had to make some moves,” said Chody.
Chody said for a long time, Williamson County had what he calls a "good old boy" system and lacked some professionalism.
“It was basically who you knew. You have leaders in this organization who are still at the bottom of the ladder because of that system. We're correcting that system,” said Chody.
Next to that, comes a stigma for some when it comes to police-community relations.
“I've had family members experience that back in the day system where it was the Wilco way. There was that saying, “Come to Wilco on vacation leave on probation,” attitude and I think there was some truth to that,” said Chody.
He said things have been evolving in Williamson County, and people should not be afraid. Since coming to office, he has opened up jail tours, re-arranged staff, brought in detective to look at cold cases, and hopes to highlight the office's transparency.
“We want to have that reputation where we're tough on crime, but we want a community where we get along with others,” said Chody.
Video shows dash cam from an incident when deputies used bean bags on an armed suicidal woman in Coupland. It was non-lethal force, something Chody is proud of. He said he applauds when they do things like this, and gets onto them if they violate policy.
Austin NAACP president Nelson Linder said he used to see a lot of mistreatment cases in Wilco. But now he is applauding the new sheriff's efforts.
“He's right. You need to address reputation by bringing people in and treating people right. I think he's trying to do that overall. I've seen some change there, some change definitely,” said Linder.
Once upon a time, Wilco may have had a bad reputation but carrying that into the future is not on Chody's watch.
“Don't let the past dictate the future because it's a different Williamson County now and I'm proud of that,” said Chody.