I received an important call on Dec. 21, 2016. The county official on the phone asked me a very simple question.
“What do you think about Matt Coates?”
That was no small question considering it came at the most challenging time in the ECSO’s history. County officials had the somber task of appointing a new sheriff, even as public trust in the department reached an all-time low. My answer was as simple as the question:
“I think he’s your man.”
And I was right.
Sheriff Coates immediately made the transition from his investigative duties at the D.A.’s office to leading the ECSO’s 70+ employees. And even as the department endured a TCOLE investigation, unprecedented public scrutiny and an in-depth county audit – I never heard Matt utter a single excuse. Not one. No flowery speeches. No platitudes. No empty promises. He just walked into the most scrutinized office in county history and went to work.
You see, real leaders don’t need to tell you that they’re leaders.
They just lead.
Public trust is the most important element in law enforcement. But trust is not the product of grand ideas. It is the product of experience. It is the product of results. It is the product of seeing more deputies on the streets and in our schools. It is the product of transparency and community engagement. And it is the product of eliminating those who betray that trust.
Some men are diminished by the weight of responsibility. Some thrive. Under Matt’s leadership, in just 3 years the ECSO has gone from being the subject of a TCOLE investigation to recognized as a TCOLE training facility. That is an extraordinary transition, but pales in comparison to one other: Remember December 2016 when this community felt betrayed? How we swore we would be slow to forgive and certainly never forget?
Well. We’ve forgotten.
I am proud to count Sheriff Matt Coates among my friends. He is a man of honor, integrity and unimpeachable character. He is a man who has been forced to make some tough decisions and has done so in a measured, diligent and resourceful way. And perhaps more than any other elected official in my lifetime, Sheriff Coates has earned our vote.
I’ll be voting to re-elect Sheriff Matt Coates for Erath County Sheriff. I humbly implore you to do the same.