Denton County residents will soon see letters from Sheriff William Travis hit their mailboxes.
Sheriff’s Office officials said an increasing number of people want to assist law enforcement and that’s why Travis recently announced that county residents are being invited to become associate members of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas.
Memberships cost $25 and are tax-deductible. The money does not, however, go to the county.
Steve Westbrook, executive director of the association, said the funds go directly to the association, which conducts an annual conference at no cost to Sheriff’s Office personnel.
“We also host regional training throughout the state and provide the Sheriff’s Office with legislative updates on a weekly basis, all for no cost, thanks to the member dues,” Westbrook said.
The Sheriffs’ Association of Texas is one of the oldest law enforcement associations in the nation, dating back to 1874, and works to provide education to deputies across the state.
Sandi Brackeen, spokeswoman for the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, said the invitations are real and not a scam, even though she has already had inquiries from residents about the letters.
“During these economic times, the need for building stronger public-private law enforcement partnerships continues to escalate, and programs such as this continue to grow in importance,” Travis said in a news release. “I encourage every citizen receiving a membership appeal to consider joining forces with us by becoming an associate member. It is a valuable investment in our future.”
According to the 2013-2014 Denton County budget, the public safety portion — which includes the Sheriff’s Office — receives an estimated 30 percent of the more than $224 million adopted budget.
Westbrook said the association has mailed out letters to county residents seven times since 2006 and he personally remembers working with Denton County sheriffs as far back as Weldon Lucas.
“No, this is not the first time this [membership soliciting] has been done there,” Westbrook said during a telephone interview Friday.
He said the association relies heavily on the membership dues.
“It’s the lifeblood of the association,” he said. “We are membership-driven.”
Currently, the association has 1,239 members in Denton County.
Those who did not receive an invitation or need additional information about what membership entails can learn more about the association at www.txsheriffs.org.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.