Mark Philpott got some surprises when he was sworn-in Thursday: a brand new badge from retiring constable John Ford and the keys to Ford’s personal 2002 Camaro.

 Ford, who served for more than 35 years, said it’s unusual to pass on a personal vehicle, but seemed the right thing to do since he and Philpott are related. Ford was often seen patrolling his territory in the black Camaro.

 Philpott’s wife Babette is one of Ford’s nieces.

 “It’s a way of keeping the job in the family,” Ford said. “It’s a good feeling to be able to do that.”

 Ford ordered Philpott’s new badge from a Beaumont outfit named Code Blue. It’s inscribed with Philpott’s name.

 Philpott, sworn-in by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Janice Menard, served for many years as the sergeant supervisor of security at the Orange County Courthouse. Philpott won the election in March, 2008, over fellow challengers Eddie Robertson and Cliff Hargrave. Precinct 3 includes Bridge City, Orangefield, West Orange, the Cove and a small portion of Vidor.

 He was required to tender his resignation to the Bridge City City Council, as he could not legally serve for two paying agencies. He said his first days in the new office will be spent getting situated.

 “I want to have some meetings with the school boards, the superintendents and the police agencies,” he said. “I look forward to serving the citizens because that’s what they elected me to do.”

 Ford at 72 said he was ready to retire and that he was in good health. He planned to travel, he said, but that it would be “nothing major.”

 Philpott and his wife have three children. He holds an advanced peace officer’s certificate and has served in corrections, in investigations and as the West Orange-Cove school district Risk Diversion officer. As sergeant of courthouse security, he supervised five bailiffs.

 Ford was one of the longest-serving constables in the state. A resident of Bridge City since 1957, he retired from Dupont in 1985 when the office of constable became full time.

 He and his wife Geraldine have three children and seven grandchildren. He began his career after his brother, Louis Ford, was killed while serving as constable, and John was appointed to the office by commissioners.

 He began serving in 1971.

 In 1991, he was named Bridge City Citizen of the year.