by BRAD ROLLINS
A veteran Austin police officer is trading his badge for the precinct 5 justice court bench after being approved unanimously on Tuesday by the Hays County commissioners court.
A 23-year veteran of Buda, Scott Cary, 55, will fill the unexpired term of O. Lamont Ramage, who retired Jan. 1. Cary said he will run for a full four-year term in 2010 as a Democrat.
“The more I looked into it, the more excited I became about the job. It’s a new challenge and I love challenges,” Cary told The Mercury after the commissioners court approved his appointment 5-0.
He said he will be sworn to the office next Tuesday and begin the job March 1. His retirement at the Austin police department is effective Feb. 28.
Cary was nominated by Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton who appointed a citizens committee to review the applications of 17 residents who applied for the position. Ten of those were met residency requirements for the job and the committee last week named four finalists for the position.
Encompassing the Buda area, JP precinct 5 lies in commissioner precinct 2.
Starting at the Austin police department in 1982 as a patrol officer, Cary’s career includes more than a decade as a detective when he worked on high-profile cases like the so-called yogurt shop murders and the abduction and murder of accountant Colleen Reed from a car wash. As a sergeant, he supervised SWAT, the bomb squad and patrol squads and was named one of the departments employees of the years three times.
“I’ve been a police officer for 32 years and I’m sad to be leaving that behind. As a JP, I’m going to be fair and impartial,” Cary said.
Barton’s first choice for the job, retired Texas Ranger Tommy Ratliff, was appointed to Ramage’s seat in October. When Sheriff Allen Bridges died suddenly in December, Ratliff was appointed sheriff in a tumultuous and emotionally charged selection process that Barton said he wanted to avoid in the JP selection.
“I wanted a transparent, professional, thorough process. We got that. I hope this can serve as a model for how the county might deal with future appointments,” Barton said in a written statement when he announced Cary’s nomination last week.
Barton said, “He’s been checked out in public and in private.”
Cary has been married for 32 years to Merry Cary, a teacher at Buda Elementary. They have two daughters, Megan and Faith, both graduates of Hays High and Texas A&M University.