Area constables on the job
Its been about eight months since David Cagle took office as the newest constable of precinct 2.
During his time on the job he has been busy serving papers and being a bailiff for Justice of the Peace, Derry Dunn. Also during this time, he does patrol and said he enjoys meeting with the people in his precinct and helping them find solutions to problems such as passing speeding vehicles in their neighborhoods.
“I love what I’m doing,” Cagle said. “It’s a great job.”
During his job he drives his 2012 Chevrolet pickup truck which he has had since before taking office.
Precinct 3 Constable, Mark Philpott, says he too loves his job. In his black Dodge Challenger, he can be seen on the streets doing his job. Philpott has also taken it upon himself to be an escort for the citizens as a courtesy. Philpott does this freely on his own and does not allow himself to be paid for these services.
However, Philpott has said he has been asked many times about his vehicle.
“Many citizens think the vehicles we drive belong to the county. Constable vehicles, in fact, are a constable’s personal vehicle,” the said.
According to Philpott, the constables are paid a salary out of which they can purchase their own vehicles. The constables are also responsible for insurance, fuel, tires, oil changes and all maintenance.
“The county, in no way, funds the vehicle or maintenance,” Philpott said.
The county has an additional insurance rider policy that may cover a portion of a claim as long as the constables are performing their normal day-to-day duties; such as serving papers and routine patrol.
However, anything outside the scope of their normal job duties, in or out of the county, the liability falls under their personal insurance policy and not the county insurance policy.
“We are personally liable for anything beyond the scope of our duty,” Philpott said.
Chris Humble, precinct 2 constable, has been doing law enforcement type work for about 28 years.
“I thoroughly enjoy my job,” Humble said. “It’s kind of a switch from criminal to civil work.”
But, it’s not all civil work, Humble has the same license as police officers and does respond to calls for backup for local agencies, such as the Orange Police Department, when needed. Humble also works to protect the children when working in school zones. Although, not in his job description, he does respond to area schools too when principals are in need of assistance. Humble is a bailiff for Judge David Peck and during school hearings.
The Texas constable is provided for in the Texas Constitution of 1876, which calls for the election of a constable in each Texas precinct of a county. Counties in Texas may have between one and eight precincts each depending on their population.
The term of office for Texas constables is four years. However, when vacancies arise, the commissioner’s court of the respective county has the authority to appoint a replacement to serve out the remaining term. If no person is elected and qualified under law to fill an office of constable for seven consecutive years, the respective commissioner’s court may declare the office dormant and it may not be filled by election or appointment. However, the commissioner’s court may reinstate the office by a majority vote or by calling an election where a majority of precinct voters approve it.
In Texas, constables and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with county-wide jurisdiction and therefore may legally exercise their authority in any precinct within their county. But, some constables’ offices limit themselves to providing law enforcement services only to their respective precinct, except in the case of serving civil and criminal process. Constables and their deputies may serve civil process in any precinct in their county and any contiguous county and can serve arrest warrants anywhere in the state.
The duties of a Texas constable generally include providing bailiffs for the justice of the peace court within their precinct and serving process issued there and from any other court. Moreover, some constables’ offices limit themselves to only these activities but others provide patrol, investigative, and security services as well.