Monday, November 09, 2009

Texas Association of Counties says constables still needed

Here's a dissenting institutional view on constables, received via email:
Scott Henson
Grits for Breakfast

Sent by e-mail

Dear Scott:

Consider this an old-fashioned letter to the editor, regarding your recent on-line question about the abolition of constables in Texas. You should first understand that Texas’ 254 counties are too varied to paint one brush stroke across them all, such as abolition of all constables.

Besides, democracy’s way of weeding out officeholders whose constituents are not happy with them is at the ballot box. Also, commissioners courts may withhold budgets if they believe other officeholders are not doing the job expected.

Constables are constitutionally authorized peace officers who perform a myriad of important law enforcement functions. They are the first link in a county's chain of law enforcement. They have the same arrest powers and duties as city police and sheriffs, along with the added responsibilities of serving as judicial officers and executing civil process for the courts. They subpoena witnesses, act as bailiffs and execute judgments.

In large metropolitan counties, constables may perform patrol functions to alleviate the burdens on other law enforcement agencies. They may make criminal investigations. They may operate truancy programs and disabled parking enforcement. They may be heavily involved in family law services, including serving process in cases of divorce, child support enforcement and domestic violence.

Hence, the conclusion that Texas doesn’t need constables is wrong. It overlooks the significant contributions constables make to the overall effort to reduce the effects of crime in their communities. Constables are important cogs in the law enforcement wheel of Texas, and they need to remain such.

Sincerely,

Elna Christopher
Director of Media Relations
Texas Association of Counties
Austin, Texas
None of that explains to me why many of those duties aren't redundant with other agencies or why taxpayers wouldn't benefit from streamlining administrative functions and subsuming constables into county sheriffs. Where constables stick to process serving and acting as court functionaries, it's less of a concern. Where they want to establish competing law enforcement agencies alongside the Sheriff and local police departments, to me that improperly pads costs paid by taxpayers and creates too many accountability problems.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bureaucrats will always resist any efforts to reduce the size of the bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

We have blogs now on top of editorial opinions so people can feel like they have a choice.
Just a redendant layer of information. Maybe we can reduce the amount of superflous information sources by getting rid of bloggers. since particularly they are not a legitimate source of anything but opinion in the first place.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

3:53, if you don't think blogs are "legitimate," why on earth would you waste your time here? Nobody forced you to drop by, much less waste your time commenting.

Anonymous said...

Cover-up
On Thursday afternoon, a radicalized Muslim US Army officer shouting "Allahu Akbar!" committed the worst act of terror on American soil since 9/11.

And no one wants to call it an act of terror or associate it with Islam.

ryanpaige said...

"Besides, democracy’s way of weeding out officeholders whose constituents are not happy with them is at the ballot box."

So we can just vote "none of the above" and the constables will vanish?

Anonymous said...

The ballot box argument is BS. You can't not elect a constable. Nor can a commissioner's court withhold salaries for an elected position. Maybe they can shrink the operating budget, but that's a pretty darn good argument that they're redundant, right?

Rage

Anonymous said...

we don't call people who murder abortion doctors in the name of God terrorists now do we. just Muslims. Just because a muslim shouts hocus pokus doesn't mean that it is an act of terror. We have people who engage in crazy behavior, in the name of numerous Gods, all the time. Sounds like a psychiatrist gone psychiatric to me. Another note is it was likely not this man who shot up the base that was the only person with religious intolerance issues. Reports indicate he was routinely harrassed by his fellow military members. nice. maybe the headline should read "racist military induces islamic officer to kill"

Anonymous said...

Constables are the Praetorian Guard of the County Commissioners; doing their bidding and all around political hacks for the county bosses.

Boyness said...

"Constables are constitutionally authorized peace officers who perform a myriad of important law enforcement functions. They are the first link in a county's chain of law enforcement. They have the same arrest powers and duties as city police and sheriffs, along with the added responsibilities of serving as judicial officers and executing civil process for the courts. They subpoena witnesses, act as bailiffs and execute judgments."
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In many states including Indiana, the job of process serving etc is that of the County Sheriff. Texas does not need this layer of law enforcement bureaucracy. I am sorry for this poster, but our point has been made loud and clear.

Boyness said...

"Reports indicate he was routinely harrassed by his fellow military members. nice. maybe the headline should read "racist military induces islamic officer to kill"

11/09/2009 08:26:00 PM
------------------------------------
Spoken by a TRUE IDIOT!

Anonymous said...

The TAC is the lobbying organization for elected county officials. When is the last time TAC supported abolishing any elected county office? I suggest the next time will be the first.

I have personal experience with these folks from a couple of decades ago when we abolished, by constitutional amendment, the office of county treasurer in a Permian Basin county. TAC fought it tooth and nail only to be defeated at the polls by about 75 to 25% vote.

Jackie Buffalo said...

So Dallas' judicial officers are a bunch of self-regulating , out-of-control lawless criminals, preying on the public sector?!
Snap.
I am so disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Somebody made him shout "Allahu Akbar!" He didn't really want to.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Val Finnell said Hasan gave a presentation at the Uniformed Services University that justified suicide bombing and told classmates that Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.

diogenes said...

Come on people, focus, this is starting to look like a TYC thread.

I'm not all that keen on the idea of any criminal justice practitioners being elected because the pressure to make the voters happy usually runs counter to the goal of justice.

Anonymous said...

Removing constables from Texas? The government will not allow this power that protects and serves the government to be taken away.

How many law enforcement agencies in Texas? Over 200 if I remember correctly. For some odd reason I still don't feel safe them protecting me.

Constables are nothing more than revenue collectors for the state. Strong armed thugs with a gun. I'd save a life of a Buger King drive thru employee, before I lifted a finger for any L.E.O.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"How many law enforcement agencies in Texas? Over 200 if I remember correctly"

Around 2,600, actually.

Boyness said...

Anonymous said...

Removing constables from Texas? The government will not allow this power that protects and serves the government to be taken away.
----------------------------------

What exactly do they protect besides the toll road receipts? Serve? Maybe serving deadbeats with due process but the Sheriff can do that.

Constables are useless and antiquated.

Of course the TAC likes them, the TAC never met a bureaucracy it didnt like.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe serving deadbeats with due process but the Sheriff can do that."

Actually, the sheriff is too busy working felonies. Should the sheriff stop working his criminal cases so he can serve as high-priced messengers for attorneys?

In any event, the trend since 1980 has been towards using private process servers, who can serve most kinds of civil process. (They cannot serve, say, writs of attachment and the like.)

There is work to be done that only peace officers can do, and even if you abolish the constable office and shift duties over to the SO, that would not obviate the need for the work to get done.

Anonymous said...

You know Scott, your point is well taken.

Why not abolish the Sheriff's Offices and Police Departments as well and just have one State Police Agency.

If you really want to cut the crap here.... We could have one Federal Police agency that acts in the place of police departments, sheriff's offices.

We could also merge the FBI and the CIA that could assist in cutting out unnecessary bureaucratic layers.

Or we could merge the military and our newly created federal police/intelligence agency.

Now Scott, that was Soviet Russia's idea with the KGB.

That is a bit extreme but seriously, why do we have city police departments, school police departments when a Sheriff's Office could take over those duties?