The purpose of the grievance procedure is to settle all grievances between the County and all employees under the civil service system as quickly and at as low an administrative level as possible. It is to assure efficient work operations and maintain employee morale.
A personal grievance may be filed by an employee, as defined in Section 86 -1002, on one or more of the following grounds:
- Improper application of rules, regulations and procedures
- Unfair treatment, including coercion, restraint or reprisal
- Discrimination because of race, religion, color, creed, gender, age, national origin, disability or political affiliation
- Disciplinary actions taken against him/her without proper cause
- Improper application of fringe benefits or improper working conditions
- Demotion, suspension, or dismissal
Commissioner Mike Cantrell was appointed by the Commissioners Court on March 29, 2011 to serve on the Civil Service Commission. Current Commissioners Court members are Commissioner Mike Cantrell, Commissioner John Wiley Price and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia.
Dallas County Strategic Plan
In the summer of 2005, Commissioner Cantrell presented a proposal to Commissioners Court to review the idea of developing a Strategic Plan for Dallas County. Over the past 30 years, the County’s role has expanded and has become more active in regional matters such as information technology and transportation, as well as other non-traditional areas. Commissioner Cantrell believed it was time to pro-actively decide as a Court what issues the County should invest its resources. In November 2005, the Court approved a consultant to assist the County in developing a Strategic Plan. The 2007-2017 Charting the Path plan is now a living document that helps guide the elected officials and department heads to services and programs that focus on what Dallas County should be providing the public.
Juvenile Information System (JIS)
In the fall of 1998, Dallas County and 15 of its cities initiated a collaboration with the common vision of building a web-based, cross-jurisdictional, interactive “data warehouse” or information system, which would allow participants in the juvenile justice system to share and access current, pertinent data on juvenile offenders across the County, from the time of arrest through final disposition. Participants included law enforcement, the District Attorney, the courts, schools, and other agencies serving juvenile offenders. Participating cities combined their Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant (JAIBG) Awards with Dallas County’s, selected an IT vendor, and the Juvenile Information System, or JIS, was born.
Today, the multi-million dollar JIS system is utilized by 90+ agencies in Dallas County, with 43 of those (including the Dallas Police Department) using JIS as their primary juvenile system. Additionally, the counties of Collin, Denton, Hunt, Kaufman, Rockwall, and Tarrant each received funding in the total amount of $1.25 million from the State Homeland Security Office’s Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP) for the purchase of hardware and software to support implementation of the JIS in their county.
In 2005, the JIS received the 2005 Best of Texas Best Application Serving Multiple Jurisdictions award from the Center for Digital Government. The award is given in recognition of an outstanding collaborative effort among multiple agencies or jurisdictions in the development of systems that deliver services more efficiently and effectively to the public and that assist participating agencies in handling their day-to-day work. The JIS became the first shared asset of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties TechShare program.
Truancy Information System (TIS)
The TIS was developed as an additional tool of the Juvenile Information System (JIS). Filing truancy cases in the past has involved the school district producing a hard-copy document from their system, hand-carrying it to the court, and the court re-entering the information on its own system in order to process the case. The process was inefficient and prone to error. In addition, information about each case was limited to that specific court, creating a significant information gap among the courts and schools.
The TIS enables a real-time electronic interface, or “e-filing”, of truancy cases between the school districts and the courts and eliminates the redundancy of re-entering information as well it creates a shared database of information that can assist the courts, schools and law enforcement in dealing with the issue of truancy in their communities.
Child Welfare Information System (CWIS)
The CWIS is a component of the Juvenile Information System (JIS). The CWIS was designed in collaborated effort involving Child Protective Service Caseworkers and Dallas County District Attorney Prosecutors and Investigators. In addition to standardizing case filing formats and real-time information, the CWIS enabled electronic filing of criminal abuse and neglect cases against parents and caregivers between the State’s Child Protective Services (CPS) Division and the District Attorney’s Office.
Adult Information System (AIS)
Dallas County’s criminal justice system is made up of 25 municipalities and more than 100 agencies, including the Sheriffs Department and County Jail, the District Attorneys Office, Municipal Law Enforcement Agencies, Municipal Courts, and Adult Probation Services. There are 65 law enforcement agencies in Dallas County that file cases with the District Attorneys office, and approximately 120,000 adult cases are processed through the County and municipal jails each year.
To provide a forum comparable to the Juvenile Information System that allows information sharing, collaboration, electronic filing and reporting, the Dallas County Adult Information System concept was rolled out in 2001 and a $1 million grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s Office was awarded to Dallas County to begin development of the AIS. To date, over $8 million in state and federal grant dollars have supported system design and development. The system was designed to accommodate small and large jurisdiction by providing the opportunity for them to retire their older systems and have an end-to-end application with the necessary information to perform day-to-day duties. Law enforcement agencies have the option to adopt the AIS as their primary records and information processing system for reporting offenses and arrests or they may continue to use their existing records management system by importing their data into the centralized database and have the ability to view a total record of the adult’s activity in the County.
The AIS went live in late 2004 and in 2006 Dallas County enhanced the AIS with an Incident Module (IM) that provides law enforcement agencies with real time AIS status checks and charge history, data searching and mining tools, and a central repository providing all Dallas County law enforcement agencies with a valuable source of investigative information.
To date, AIS has processed over 1 million individuals through the Dallas County Jail and currently has over 800,000 photos and it is utilized by an average of 4,000 to 5,000 users per day.
Texas Conference of Urban Counties (CUC)
Commissioner Cantrell serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Conference of Urban Counties, a non-profit organization composed of 37 member counties, which represent nearly 80% of the population of Texas. The Urban Counties supports and coordinates communications among member counties, studies policies and programs of the State of Texas that affect urban counties, advocates county issues, primarily at the state level, and provides training and education programs appropriate for urban county officials.
Texas Conference of Urban Counties TechShare Program
TechShare is a CUC program that provides opportunities for counties to collaborate on technology projects and to share information resources. TechShare projects are mutual efforts where participants save money by sharing the cost of research and development. Projects can produce applications, systems, or other technology assets owned by the Urban Counties and made available to all members. The current TechShare projects consist of the Juvenile Information System (JIS), the Juvenile Case Management System (JCMS), the Common Integrated Justice System (CIJS), and the Adult Case Management System (ACMS).
TechShare - Juvenile Information System
The JIS that was developed by Dallas County became the first shared asset of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties TechShare program, and by doing so the annual cost for maintenance and operations has been reduced from $1.4 million to $500,000. Collectively, the participating counties are saving an estimated $800,000 annually.
The JIS provides users with a forum for information sharing and collaboration through a centralized database of juvenile information. The application provides functionality for law enforcement, district attorney, municipal courts, district courts/clerks, school districts, intake, detention, probation, victim services, mediation and other juvenile departments. The JIS also provides participants with a complete tool for end-to-end processing of juvenile offenders.
TechShare - Juvenile Case Management System (JCMS)
The Juvenile Case Management System project brings together separate efforts of multiple member counties with a unified process that reduces duplication, leverages existing work, and increases market power, and provides each participating county with a state-of-the-art integrated juvenile justice system at a greatly reduced cost. Individually, the JCMS project would cost each county $5million; however, collectively, the participating counties are saving $5 million through this collaboration.
The Funding Counties (Bexar, Dallas, and Tarrant Counties) and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commissioner (TJPC) combined their efforts and resources to participate in this project to develop a Juvenile Case Management System to meet their common needs. This project is using JIS as the foundation for the new system. JCMS will move JIS to the .net technology and expand its functionality.
The JCMS is a comprehensive juvenile justice information and case management system that will provide for the common data collection, reporting and management needs of Texas juvenile probation departments as well as the flexibility to accommodate individualized requirements. It is anticipated that the system will consist of several modules-Intake, Courts, Probation Case Management, Programs, Facilities/Instructions, Law Enforcement and Juvenile Justice alternative Education Program. With the creation of the JCMS, there will be one integrated juvenile justice software system based on a single source code.
The JCMS will provide for Dallas County
and for the State
- a single, integrated system, i.e.: JIS & Caseworker working from a single database;
- shared juvenile data statewide, shared juvenile case file;
- advanced technology;
- shared development cost, shared maintenance and operations cost;
TechShare - Criminal Justice Information System (CIJS)
- timely access to shared juvenile case files;
- expanded electronic data exchanges, i.e. TYC common application;
- new generation of Caseworker for all counties and juvenile justice agencies;
- potential to expand information sharing for kids at risk.
The Criminal Justice Information System is a set of functional applications that will enable the effective and efficient administration of justice for the Urban Counties membership. It is based on a common architecture that will provide rapid sharing of justice information across county lines while providing each member county with advanced justice management capabilities.
The CIJS Court Administration Contract is a Master Agreement between the Urban Counties and Tyler Technologies that provides the member counties with the option to acquire the Odyssey Court Administration and Prosecutor software that was selected through a competitive procurement process by the counties who participated in CIJS Phase III. The member counties also have the option to acquire other integrated justice software components (i.e. Law Enforcement, Jail Management, Hot Checks, Adult Probation) from Tyler Technologies through the Master Agreement.
CIJS has implemented or is implementing in Dallas County (Civil & Family); Collin County (Probate & Civil); Fort Bend County (Probate & Civil); Hays County, Kaufman County, Williamson County (Civil & Family); and Wise County. Counties currently in contract process are Harris, Smith, and Webb.
The Master Agreement, with Tyler Technologies, includes a Court Administration License Fee for unlimited use by all Urban Counties. The License Fee for unlimited use by all Urban Counties is $12,395,000. Payments of the Court Administration License Fee are structured over four (4) county fiscal years. Once the Urban Counties has paid the total License Fee, the Master License Agreement becomes perpetual and the term of the contract is extended automatically.
Benefits of CIJS includes a new system at lower cost - savings as much as 50% in some counties and collectively the thirteen participating counties are saving more than $15 million, standard system for all courts, leadership in State and National court standards, and the opportunity to collaborate with other county at all levels.
The value of CIJS includes saving time and cost of procurement, saving up to 40% of list price for license cost and rebates as more counties participate; programming costs reduced due to collaboration on product enhancements and rebates as more counties participate; and maintenance at 16% of license costs.
Adult Case Management System (ACMS)
The Adult Case Management System is a collaborated effort among the counties of Dallas and Tarrant to design and develop a comparable system to JCMS, but for adults with AIS being the foundation. By Dallas and Tarrant counties utilizing development through CUC, the counties will leverage their investment in facilities and staff, effectively saving approximately $250,000 in costs.
The proposed project will start at the beginning of the criminal justice process and work through Magistration, allowing Dallas County to replace the portions of the legacy AIS with a system that is built on a single application architecture that can be easily and efficiently operated, maintained and enhanced.
The initial phase of ACMS will address the Intake, Book-In and Magistration functions. Each module or release can be independently installed and made operational through the Application Program Interface (API), operating in parallel with AIS, so the County minimizes the risk of a major disruption in operation as the new system modules come on-line. Phase 1 will be completed in a total of 17 months, and when completed, Dallas County will have replaced approx. 40% of legacy AIS.
The proposed project budget included in the Addendum includes costs for:
The projected budget totals $5.5million, which will be split between Dallas & Tarrant counties, so Dallas County will be responsible for $2.75 million.
- Software development services (through State contract)
- Travel for County Staff (two from each county)
- Urban Counties staff
- Urban Counties development center costs
Texas Conference of Urban Counties Policy Committee
As a member of this committee, Commissioner Cantrell and elected officials who serve are responsible for the development and adoption of legislative positions on all matters of State Intergovernmental Relations for the Urban Counties. Positions adopted by the committee are positions of the association, and do not require further ratification by either the board or the full membership. However, all positions adopted must be reported to the full membership at the next scheduled meeting and are subject to modifications at that time.
Dallas County’s Benefit Committee
This committee reviews, monitors, evaluates and advises on the goals, objectives and priorities for the benefit programs for eligible employees and retirees. The committee also coordinates in conjunction with the Public Employee Benefits Cooperative, the operation and progress of health care programs, contracts and vendors, and to make recommendations to the County Commissioners. In the event there are appeals from employees or retirees regarding benefits administered by Dallas County or its vendors, this committee will review those matters.
Center for Ethical Identity Assurance (CEIA)
Commissioner Cantrell serves as the Countys participant in this partnership between leading global companies such as Unisys, government organizations, vendors and several of the worlds leading research universities. Their goal is to promote globally interoperable standards for identity proofing, credentialing, and authentication, and supporting business process, for physical identity credentials that are embraced by individuals and trusted by business and governments around the world.
Judicial Committee on Information Technology (JCIT)
The 75th Legislature created the JCIT in 1997 in Senate Bill 1417, the Judicial Efficiency Bill. This committees mission is to establish standards and guidelines for the systemic implementation and integration of information technology into the trial and appellate courts in Texas. Its goal is to coordinate the design and implementation of a statewide computer communications network and a comprehensive justice information system. The general powers and duties of JCIT are outlines in Section 77.031, Texas Government Code (Vernon 1997).
Adult Integrated Criminal Justice System User Committee (AICJSUC)
The AICJSUC, which was established by Commissioners Court order, is chaired by Commissioner Cantrell, who is also the Commissioners appointee. This committee evaluates requested system changes, identifies the needs for criminal justice systems and prioritizing these changes; ensures that user departments comply with committee decisions and directives for use and operation of criminal justice systems; resolves conflicts among user departments relevant to the implementation and use of criminal justice systems; ensures that user departments system design decisions are made in accordance with the goals and purpose of criminal justice systems; interacts with criminal justice systems vendors regarding operational concerns; maximizes coordination of criminal justice systems among user departments; recommends to the ITSC the use of grant and/or County resources allocated for criminal justice systems; assists in establishing test cases and criteria that will insure changes to the system will not adversely impact system operations and/or performance; signs off on all changes after appropriate test results have been reviewed; and addresses any other issues related to the computerization of criminal justice systems.
Information Technology Steering Committee (ITSC)
Commissioner Cantrell chairs this Committee that is responsible for the execution of information resource policies. The Committee, with input and advice from IT Services, must first assist the Commissioners Court in the development of a strategic vision of the direction in which the development of county information resources is headed. Once receiving this overall vision from the Commissioners Court, the committee must then translate the elements of this vision into specific activities, executable by means of clearly delineated operational processes. In addition, the committee addresses the allocation of resources within the IT Services Department, serving as a vehicle for resolving conflicts arising from contention for those resources and from the overlapping impact of new system requirements.
Public Employees Benefit Cooperative (PEBC)
The PEBC was created in 1998. On behalf of its member governments, the PEBC works diligently to keep health care costs affordable. In this era of skyrocketing health care and pharmacy costs, the PEBC is dedicated to providing members choice, flexibility and value without compromising the level of benefits. The PEBC performs many services including joint purchase of employee benefits and cost effective centralized administration. PEBC members include Dallas County, Tarrant County, Denton County, Collin County, North Texas Tollway Authority, and the City of Frisco.
North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) - Executive Board
Commissioner Cantrell represents the Dallas County Commissioners Court on this Executive Board. NCTCOG is a voluntary association of, by and for local governments, and was established to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development. They serve North Central Texas, and have over 230 member governments including 16 counties, numerous cities, school districts and special districts.
Elected Secretary Regional Transportation Council
The Commissioner has served on this Council since January 2007 representing the Commissioners Court. The RTC is the independent transportation policy body of the Metropolitan Planning Organization that provides guidance regarding the development of multimodel transportation plans and programs, programming federal and state funds for the implementation of transportation improvements, selecting specific federally funded projects and programs, assuming the coordination of services among transportation providers, and ensuring compliance with federal and state laws and regulations pertaining to metropolitan transportation and air quality planning.
Rail North Texas - Texas Local Option Transportation Act
Through his membership on the Regional Transportation Council, Commissioner Cantrell has had the privilege of analyzing and contributing to the development of an innovative funding opportunity to pay the extension of passenger rail. Passenger rail is needed to provide more transportation options for the public, promote better air quality, reduce congestion, and to create a seamless transportation system. The transit vision of RTC through the Mobility 2030 plan calls for 250 additional miles of rail in our region, however there is no funding available. Although the passage of additional sales tax to fund the $6 billion system did not pass during the 80th Legislative Session, a new set of tools are being sought through the current Session with the filing of SB 855 by Senator Carona and HB 9 by Representative Vicki Truitt to allow the voters to choose which fees should be implemented to fund future rail projects.
Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition (DRMC)
Commissioner Cantrell serves as a member (and former Chairman) on this Coalition which is an organization of cities, counties and public transportation agencies in a five-county region that advocates for transportation policy, funding and solutions on a local, state and federal level. DRMC has four critical objectives: (1) improve mobility and safety, (2) improve air quality, (3) enhance quality of life through reduced commuting and travel times, and (4) support economic vitality.
East Corridor Project
The East Corridor design team is exploring the re-design of the IH 30 and US 80 corridors east of downtown Dallas. Particular aspects include the evaluation of all social, economic, environmental, hydraulic impacts; traffic management and cost-effectiveness of alternatives/alignments; strategies and means necessary to achieve local, regional, state and national transportation goals and financing of the same.
NCTCOG - Outer LoopRail Bypass Stakeholder Roundtable
The Regional Outer Loop/Rail bypass is a proposed multi-use, regional network of transportation routes that will incorporate existing and new highways, railways, and utility right of ways. When TXDOT released the Crossroads of Americas: Trans-Texas Corridor Plan in June 2002, the RTC (NCTCOG) welcomed the visionary approach and began to evaluate the potential benefits to the DFW region. While the original concept of the TTC was to simply bypass non-attainment and near non-attainment areas to avoid federal air quality regulations, it was clear to the RTC that the TTC could be developed in a staged sequence of improvements that could maximize revenue, solve near-term congestion needs, and benefit the long term economic development and mobility needs of the state while having appositive impact on congested urban areas. The purpose of this group is to serve as a bridge for input and coordination between the public, the Outer Loop Corridor Refinement Team, and the RTC, as well as ensure consideration of local community context, environmental constraints, and other factors to aid in the identification of a Locally Preferred Corridor Alternative. The goal of the group is to leverage the Outer Loop/Rail Bypass Investment to the greatest local benefit for Sustainable Development, Economic Opportunity, Safety/Reliability, Air Quality and Mobility.
TXDOT - 190 - East Branch Transportation Study
This study involves two steps: (1) a Major Transportation Study (MTS) and (2) environmental documentation and preliminary engineering. This project, which is within the Commissioners district boundary, is managed by the TXDOT at this time. This section will eventually be the connection at I-30 to the PGBT Eastern Extension which is set to open in 2012.
Criminal Justice Advisory Board
The Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB) was developed from Vision 3: Dallas County is safe, secure and prepared of Dallas County’s Strategic Plan that was adopted in 2007.
The vision statement for the CJAB is the creation of a forum for community, business and professional collaboration leading to an effective and just criminal justice system that ensures Dallas County is safe, secure, and prepared.
The mission statement of the CJAB is based on a principle mission of the Dallas County Criminal Justice Advisory Board to identify opportunities for improvement in the criminal justice system of Dallas County using the following core strategies:
- Synergize public safety programs and services across Dallas County
- Coordinate programs and systems to reduce crime in Dallas County
- Maximize effectiveness of Dallas County’s criminal justice resources
Commissioner Mike Cantrell has served as Chair andformer Chief Kunkle served as Vice-Chair from October 2008 thru November 2010 at which time Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia was selected as Chair and Michale Noyes as Vice Chair.
CJAB consists of the following subcommittees:
- Corrections, Commissioner John Wily Price Chair
- Law Enforcement, Chief Mitch Bates Chair
- Pre-Trial & Diversion, Ron Stretcher Chair
- Prosecution, DA Craig Watkins, Moore, or Brooks Chair
- Courts, Presiding Felony Courts Judge Don Adams - Chair
- Re-Entry, Charles Terrell & Mike Lee Co-Chair
- Public Policy Committee, Dr. Elba Garcia Chair
- Juvenile Court, Mike Griffiths Chair
The General membership of the CJAB is made up of the following:
- Mayor, City of Dallas
- Representative of Dallas City Council
- The Dallas County Judge
- Representative of the Dallas County Commissioners District
- One (1) Representative from a City in each of four (4) County Commissioner District
- Dallas County Sheriff
- Chief of Police, City of Dallas
- Dallas County District Attorney
- United States Attorney
- Representative of Drug Enforcement Agency
- Representative of FBI
- United State Marshall
- Representative of Federal Parole, Probation and Pre-Trial Services
- Dallas County Chief Public Defender
- Presiding Judge, Dallas County District Courts (Felony)
- Presiding Judge, Dallas County Criminal Courts (Misdemeanor)
- Representative of the Dallas County Justice of the Peace
- Director, Dallas County Community Supervision & Community Corrections
- Director, Dallas County Department of Criminal Justice
- Regional Director, TDCJ Parole
- Director, Dallas County Juvenile Dept.
- Representative of the Dallas County Constable
- Dallas County District Courts Manger
- Dallas County Criminal Court Manager
- Dallas County Chief Medical Examiner
- Director, Dallas County Health & Human Service
- Director, Dallas County Security and Emergency Management
The Executive membership of the CJAB is made up of the following:
- CJAB Chair
- CJAB Vice-Chair
- All Committee Chairs
- Dallas County Judge
- Mayor, City of Dallas County
- Commissioner, County of Dallas
- Commissioner Dist. 1 City Representative
- Commissioner Dist. 2 City Representative
- Commissioner Dist. 3 City Representative
- Commissioner Dist. 4 City Representative
- United States Attorney
- Dallas County Sheriff
- Chief of Police, City of Dallas
- District Attorney, Dallas County
- Chief Public Defender, Dallas County
- Direction, Dallas County Community Supervision & Corrections Dept.
- Director, Dallas Department of Criminal Justice
- Regional Director, TDC Parole
President George Bush Turnpike - Eastern Extension Task Force
Commissioner Cantrell facilitated monthly task force meetings after learning that this project was facing a few obstacles in getting to construction. Like many projects, this one had been in the planning stage for twenty plus years, and as it was nearing the final stages, the agencies recognized that several Agreements needed to be made to finalize some rather complicated terms. Monthly task force meetings were held between August 2007 and June 2008, and as a result, Agreements with TXDOT, NTTA, and FHWA were executed, and many others hurdles were identified and resolved. In July 2008, FHWA advised NTTA that the project was environmentally cleared and construction began on this project in September 2008.
The New Look
In light of potential tax and revenue “caps” for local governments and the resulting outlook for minimal or non-existent funds available for employee compensation increases, in January 2004 Commissioner Cantrell assembled a working group consisting of individuals from Commissioners Court Administration, Human Resources, Auditor, and the Office of Budget and Evaluation departments to be proactive in looking at how Dallas County would handle workforce investments for the 2005 and coming budget years. The “New Look” Committee met weekly and formulated a process for looking at all services county government provides and whether those services were “mandatory” or “traditional.”
The Committees challenge was to determine, for mandatory services, if there were a more efficient or effective way to provide the service, and for traditional services, if the benefit generated justified the continuation of the service, and if so, could it also be done more efficiently and effectively. The end goal was to re-engineer county government to be more efficient in the delivery of services while at the same time providing as good or better services to the taxpayers. Any savings from departmental initiatives, up to $21 million, would then be used for workforce investment in the next fiscal year.
The Commissioners Court approved the New Look initiative and made a commitment to utilize the savings for workforce investments. By June 2004, 86 proposals had been submitted for discussion, with 26 of them being assigned to working committees for further development. The estimated value of the 26 proposals was $22 million.
Truancy Intervention Program & High Impact Teams
The Dallas Challenge Adolescent Class C & Truancy Intervention Project was an early-intervention program designed to support chronically truant children and their families and get the young person back on track, in school, and out of the juvenile justice system. Commissioner Cantrell worked actively to pass legislation which would put "teeth" in the state's juvenile code and allow truancy cases to be filed and enforced directly against the offender.
What was particularly unique about this program was the High Impact Team component. A High Impact Team is composed of trained volunteers from the child's neighborhood and area businesses, churches, law enforcement entities, schools, and service clubs. The volunteer Team "adopts" the family and meets with them on a regular basis. The individual team members utilize their experiences, skills, and resources to assist, mentor, and encourage the family in whatever ways are helpful.
Dallas County Specialized Truancy Courts
Truancy is an early warning sign for a number of problems a child may be having at home or at school such as drugs, alcohol, abuse, etc. In Texas, both Municipal and Justice of the Peace (JP) Courts are allowed to hear Failure to Attend School and Parent Contributing to Truancy cases. However, because of the volume of cases in the Dallas Independent School District alone, the average time from the date of filing until a child had a hearing in front of a Judge was 77 days. In an effort to have a system that would respond timely and consistently in Dallas County, dedicated courts that specialized in truancy related matters were necessary.
In 1999, Commissioner Cantrell visualized and began working on the creation of specialized courts for truancy cases in order to handle them in a consistent and timely manner. In 2002, two County-funded municipal courts were created in the City of Dallas for the sole purpose of hearing Dallas ISD truancy cases. In 2003, Legislation was approved which allowed for a "constitutional county court" in Dallas County to hear truancy cases. The two municipal courts were converted to "county constitutional courts" and an additional court was added to assist with the volume of cases. Another component added to each of the courts was the position of a Juvenile Case Manager who assisted the Magistrates with effective placements into youth programs by identifying issues in the child’s like that might be keeping them out of school. Since that time, another specialized court was opened in Garland to hear Garland, Mesquite, and Richardson ISD’s cases.
Commissioner Cantrell led the implementation and development of the courts which included a policy and procedure manual, an electronic filing mechanism from DISD to the courts, and the creation of performance measures in order to track successes (i.e. the reduction of the time to hear a case from an average of 77 days to 18 days).
Once the courts were completely operational, in October 2005, Commissioner Cantrell turned all functional and operational aspects of the courts over to the County Judge, who by statute oversees these courts. Commissioner Cantrell will continue to pursue his vision for a complete "Integrated Truancy System" that includes all 15 Independent School Districts within Dallas County. His vision foresees all truancy cases being filed electronically by the ISDs and processed electronically all the way through the courts to final disposition. In addition, he envisions Truancy Courts strategically placed geographically throughout Dallas County.
Dallas County Truancy Task Force
A collaboration of Justices of the Peace, school district officials, District Attorney staff, and community representatives who sought to develop ideas and provide solutions around the issue of truancy among the various entities that are involved in the process, as well as to develop a streamlined, efficient and effective process in order to respond to truancy in an expeditious manner.
Target: Kids In Court (TKIC)
TKIC is a collaboration of the Dallas community with policy and decision-makers from the federal, state, and local level working together to create positive outcomes for children and adolescents in the court system. The mission of the initiative is to make significant systemic changes across jurisdictions and geographic areas that will "re-invent" the process for accessing services and volunteers for children in the court system. Individuals from all levels of government work together with volunteers, social service agencies and community leaders to move children out of the court system as quickly as possible and to keep them out.
Many great projects and ideas were generated from the TKIC partners, one of which was the Transition Resource Action Center (TRAC) which opened in March 2003. TRAC is a centralized assessment/intake and referral facility for transitional living services for youth who age out of the foster care system when they turn 18. In the first year, a total of 450 youth were referred to TRAC for assistance with housing, vocational training, health services and many other needed services.
Another project which derived from TKIC was the Annual Dallas County Adoption Day event which is held in November each year. An abundance of volunteers turn out for an exciting celebration at the courthouse where as many as 100 children are adopted in just one day. The newly adopted children are showered with gifts, cookies, balloons, and teddy bears so that it will be a day to remember for all.
Alliance on Underage Drinking (ALOUD)
ALOUD is a collaboration of police officials, individuals from various levels of government, social service agencies, and TxDOT officials whose focus is to reduce the incidence and impact of underage drinking through increased community involvement by increasing parental involvement, creating public awareness campaigns, developing a concentrated enforcement of existing laws and ordinances, and developing consistent prosecution and sentencing of offenders.
Dallas County Community Plan
A comprehensive planning document compiled annually by local representatives from government, law enforcement, schools, social service agencies, health care, non-profits, and interested community participants as a prerequisite for application for grants from the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s Office. Commissioner chaired the Plan from inception through 2002. For more information on the annual Community Plan, contact the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).
Protective Order Rapid Response Team (PORRT)
Formed in February of 1996, the PORRT’s goal was to re-engineer and streamline the process of obtaining a protective order in Dallas County. Team members included representatives from the District Clerk, District Attorney, and Constable offices, as well as from the judiciary and local domestic violence shelters. At the time the Team was created, a battered person could expect to wait 20 days or more from the time they filed an application for the protective order until the citation and ex parte protective order were served on the alleged batterer. This was followed by an additional wait of up to several weeks before a hearing was held and the final protective order issued. Once the team implemented identified improvements, battered persons were able to file an application and have an alleged batterer served with an ex parte protective order within 4 to 5 days, and to have a hearing and final protective order issued within 12-14 days from beginning to end.
Orders of Protective Custody
An Order of Protective Custody, or OPC, assists in resolving a number of hindrances and issues surrounding enforcement of, which is designed to enable authorities to transport mentally ill individuals from the Psychiatric Emergency Room at Parkland Hospital, where they are often taken to an appropriate residential treatment facility.
Under the old system, lack of a signature from an authorized individual prevented the timely transfer of patients from Parkland, which is a space-limited short-term treatment facility only. Commissioner Cantrell was able to bring together the necessary parties to create a new system whereby an authorized signature for transfer is available by fax 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to ER personnel.
Mental Illness Warrants
Commissioner Cantrell was integral in the establishment of a more user-friendly system for the attainment of a Mental Illness Warrant in Dallas County. Previously, concerned friends or family members who needed to obtain a Mental Illness Warrant, or MIW, for a loved one had no choice but to travel to downtown Dallas and navigate not only the unfamiliar downtown streets and buildings, but also a complicated warrant process, involving travel to several different locations. Under the new system, family members may obtain an MIW in one stop from their local Justice of the Peace office, which is often located in or near their own neighborhood.
The new process reduced duress and inconvenience for the petitioner at a time which is already emotionally stressful, and more evenly distributed the workload across the county and court system, thereby allowing for a quicker response in these often urgent situations.
Jail Psychiatric Task Force
Jail Psychiatric Task Force evaluates and implements recommendations made by the Jail Psychiatric Services Evaluation Committee regarding psychiatric services offered to mentally ill inmates in the county jail. The Jail Psychiatric Task Force ensures the continuity of care, more effective delivery of services and ongoing cooperation between all entities.
Wagon Wheel Lane
Wagon Wheel Lane had for years been a substandard road in the unincorporated area and had deteriorated to the point of being and health and safety hazard due to the inability of emergency vehicles to access homes on the street. Commissioner Cantrell worked for seven years with residents living along this road to identify a legal process by which the County could adopt and maintain the road and also to identify a funding source which would provide for construction expenses necessary to bring the road up to County standards.
Dorothy Lane Sanitary Sewer
Commissioner Cantrell was Instrumental in moving forward the installation of sanitary sewer lines to serve Dorothy Lane residents located in the unincorporated area of Dallas County. Dorothy Lane residents had experienced significant ongoing problems with septic tanks and sanitation, posing a threat to the public health and the residents themselves, due to the subdivision’s high water table, poor drainage, and substandard lot size. The project eliminated a public health nuisance, was a multi-jurisdictional collaboration and provided a direct benefit to citizens.
Sexually-Oriented Business Court Order
Instrumental in pushing through a Commissioners Court Order which regulates the location and operation of sexually oriented businesses in the County's unincorporated areas. Court Order was developed and passed after a sexually oriented business opened in an unincorporated area of District 2. This provided the Commissioners Court with a method for regulating sexually oriented businesses in the unincorporated area of the county which protects citizens from unwanted noise and traffic in their neighborhoods and provides an opportunity for citizen input.
Nuisance Abatement Policy
Took the lead in addressing the issue of nuisance abatement in the unincorporated areas of Dallas County and played key role in the establishment of a county-wide plan for abating nuisances, as well as the addition of a second full-time nuisance abatement officer for the County. Standardized enforcement process throughout the county's unincorporated area, created a plan for addressing existing nuisances, and added resources to increase availability of officers to address citizen complaints.
Justice of the Peace Jury Services Task Force
Commissioner Cantrell organized the Justice of the Peace Jury Services Task Force to look into ways to streamline the JP jury selection process to make it more functional and convenient for both the courts and the jurors. One success from this coordinated effort was a change in how jurors report to the JP Courts. If a juror is needed for one of the outlying suburban JP courts, the Jury Services Department chooses individuals from the jury pool who live near that community and then allow them to take their own vehicle to that court rather than being shuttled together from downtown. The juror is then released from jury duty directly by the JP when they are finished and are not required to report back downtown to the Central Jury Room.
Justice of the Peace & Constable Staffing Standards
Commissioner Cantrell led the effort to resolve ongoing historical conflict between the Commissioners Court and the Justices of the Peace and Constables regarding staffing standards for those offices. Established a task force for both the Constables and JPs to review relevant issues and recommend solutions. He, ultimately, brought forward solutions, which were subsequently passed by Commissioners Court.
Participated in instituting a Judicial Support Personnel Salary Plan which sets compensation policy for the Criminal District Court staff members including Court Coordinators, Staff Attorneys, Law Clerks, Magistrates, and Referees.
Pushed for and passed through Commissioners Court the hiring of a collections agency for dormant accounts, which has significantly increased revenue.
Pushed for and passed through Commissioners Court the addition of two Civil Masters for the Civil District Courts.
Actively participated in the planning and implementation of the DIVERT Court. This court intervenes on the front end of the criminal justice system for non-violent drug offenders with less serious charges.
A proponent for the establishment of an elections fraud unit in the District Attorney’s office, consisting of an elections fraud prosecutor and investigator.
Dallas County Commissioners Court has continued to maintain Dallas County's low tax rate and “double AAA” bond rating.
Helped pass the Freeport Tax Exemption to promote industrial development and the generation of new jobs in Dallas County.
Helped pass the Rodeo City Tax Increment Finance District to encourage economic development in the area.
Helped pass revised tax abatement policy to include "economically significant" projects.