HOUSTON - David Cuevas represents more than 3,000 Harris County Sheriff's Office Deputies and Detention Officers - men and women who've collectively reached a "breaking point."
"We cannot continue to overwork and burden our personnel," said Cuevas in an exclusive interview with FOX 26. "People are exhausted, They are quitting by the hundreds at what point do you stop the bleeding?"
"The ship is sunk," he continued. "We do not have enough personnel to adequately respond to crimes. Ladies and Gentleman of Harris County, if you get robbed, raped, or shot hold your breath and pray because we don't know if we have the personnel to respond."
At issue, far too few patrol units to respond to escalating crime and a chronically jam-packed jail with not nearly enough officers to operate it safely.
"Let me tell you how bad it is, we have detention officers that are soiling themselves and urinating on themselves because there are not enough personnel to give them a break," said Cuevas. "That is absolutely wrong and it falls at the feet of Commissioners Court."
Cuevas says years of pleading with County leaders, both Democrat and Republican, have fallen on what he calls "deaf ears".
"Year after year of failed jail inspections," he said. "2004, 2005, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2017. What else are we going to do? They do not care! They have failed at every level. They just don't give a damn."
Cuevas reserved his harshest criticism for the current County Judge.
With the full backing of its membership, the Harris County Deputies Organization is filing a major class-action lawsuit in federal court against the entire Commissioners Court and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
"Enough is enough," he said. "We are sick and tired of it and now it's time to take action."
Formal complaints have also been lodged with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and the U.S. Department of Justice.
"We will be asking the federal government to intervene and force Commissioners Court to do their damn job," Cuevas said.
FOX 26 has learned that hundreds of deputies and detention officers have been interviewed on the record in preparation for legal action.