‘Too young to retire’: McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara plans to run for reelection

KWTX Managing Editor Tommy Witherspoon interviews McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.
KWTX Managing Editor Tommy Witherspoon interviews McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.(Bradley Vaughn for KWTX)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 4:38 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara admitted Thursday he can’t run as fast as he used to, but apparently, that is not going to stop him from running for a another term in office next year.

“I’m much too young to retire,” McNamara said. “My gosh, I’m just 76.”

Speaking to a large gathering at the McLennan County Republican Club Thursday, McNamara had the partisan crowd at times clapping, laughing, cheering and gasping at stories about incidents he and his officers have dealt with in the 10 years McNamara has been sheriff.

McNamara, who turns 77 in April, knows that his age will be an issue in his upcoming election bid, but said he is ready to meet any challenger.

“Bring ‘em on,” said McNamara, who has spent 53 years in law enforcement, including 32 years with the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Currently, there are strong indications that McNamara will face at least one opponent – a former sheriff’s office employee – in the March 2024 Republican primary.

Introduced as “America’s Sheriff,” Republican Club President Scott Salmans upgraded McNamara to the “World’s Sheriff” after McNamara reported his human trafficking unit and Detective Joseph Scaramucci have been asked to train officers and work cases in Mongolia, Poland, Ukraine and other countries and around the United States.

“Our human trafficking unit is known worldwide, McNamara said. “I’m so proud of that.”

The sheriff said within the first 12 hours of him giving Scaramucci the go-ahead to initiate online stings of suspected sex offenders looking to have sex with minors, there were 100 men lining up to meet children for sex.

“It was like every kind of weird sicko came out of the woodwork,” McNamara said.

McNamara said his office has about 500 employees and operates the seventh-largest jail facility by population with a capacity for 1,678 inmates.

He said the office works under three mottos that are emblazoned on patrol vehicles featuring American flags, “Your safety comes first,” “Riding herd on the lawless” and “In God we trust.”

Someone asked him if he was afraid of getting sued for the “In God we trust” logo.

“I told them that would be the biggest honor that I have ever had in my life if some sorry scumbag atheist tries to sue me. Bring it on,” McNamara said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Another person asked what would happen if someone tried to scrape the American flag from a patrol vehicle.

“Believe me, they will do it one time and they are going to see what the asphalt tastes like and they are going to get a slow ride to the jail,” McNamara said. “So y’all can read between the lines.”

McNamara also reported on new units his office developed since he took office, including the Fugitive Apprehension and Special Task Unit, a Cold Case Unit, a program to train volunteers to help react to schools threats, a marine safety unit with three boats and an organized crime unit.

The sheriff’s office also has increased the number of helicopters to three, McNamara said, adding that they have become valuable resources to other counties, also. He said the county’s helicopters assisted in helping find a large marijuana field in Robertson County that yielded 6,000 plants and aided border patrols in Zapata County, finding tortured victims of drug cartels floating in the river and deterring human traffickers.

While McNamara said his office has upgraded equipment for officers, including in-car video systems, the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office remains in a small minority of  law enforcement agencies statewide that does not provide body cameras for its deputies.

McNamara said after the luncheon he thinks the sheriff’s office “eventually” will get body cameras for officers.