Nehls faces former deputy in Sheriff’s Republican Primary
By Michael Sudhalter
The majority of this story was published last March
The Fort Bend Sheriff Republican Primary places the incumbent, Sheriff Troy Nehls, against former Fort Bend Sheriff’s deputy Frank Cempa Sr., who resigned from FBCSO in 2013.
The primary, which could still yield more candidates, will take place on March 1. Early voting began yesterday and runs through Feb. 26.
Nehls, a 47-year-old former Constable and U.S. Army Veteran, won a Republican primary in 2012 against then-FBSO Chief Deputy Craig Brady, who outspent him significantly, and then went on to defeat Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Ellison, a Democrat, in the general election that year.
Ellison will again be the Democratic candidate for Sheriff in November, but he’s running unopposed in the Democratic Primary.
Like Ellison, Cempa, a 66-year-old U.S. Air Force Veteran, showed heroics during a Fort Bend bank robbery and was honored with a valor award from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. During the shootout, Cempa was shot, but he shot and killed one of the suspects who was believed to be involved in 28 other bank robberies.
While Nehls respects Cempa’s 40+ years of law enforcement experience, he said the current administration has the Sheriff’s Office headed in the right direction and is campaigning under the slogan, “Keeping The Promise”
Nehls said his 2012 campaign set goals on “four major areas that needed improvement”
“We are successfully accomplishing all four of those goals and objectives,” Nehls said. “We’re doing what we said we’re going to do.”
The goals were improving crime solve rates (an 11 percent solve rate on burglaries over the past two years and a 27 percent reduction in the number of reported burglaries) and reducing “irresponsible overtime spending in the Criminal Investigations Division.”
“Upon taking office, we immediately created a second shift of Detectives who’s duties include burglaries,” Nehls said. “As a result, we reduced overtime spending (by) over 60 percent.”
Cempa, who worked as a deputy for the Sheriff’s Office from 2003-13, is running on a platform to increase the number of patrol units and boost employee morale.
“Patrol is the backbone of a police department,” Cempa said. “They are the thin blue line of first responders (who are on the scene) long before other officers show up.”
Nehls said both the patrol division and employee morale are in great shape.
The former deputy said he favors many of the policies from the administration of former four-term Sheriff Milton Wright whom he worked for during the majority of his tenure.
He would like to bring back some of those policies, coupled with some ideas from the New York Police Department whom he worked for during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 2012, Cempa supported Brady for Sheriff, but he voted for Nehls in the general election to stay loyal to the Republican Party.
When the Nehls administration took office, Cempa admittedly wasn’t shy about publicly questioning the new policies.
In October 2013, Cempa received a written reprimand from Chief Deputy David Marcaurele for Unprofessional Conduct and Insubordination.
According to the written reprimand, Cempa had stated that the FBCSO’s newly formed Crisis Intervention Team was “bull (expletive)” and a “waste of time.”
The reprimand also showed that Cempa had argued with administration over instructions to attend trainings.
Cempa was re-assigned from patrol to the detention division, when he shortly resigned, saying “I’ve always been a patrolman, not a jailer.”