Mark Philpott: a man of the people
Mark Philpott, Precinct 3 constable, drives a black 2009 Dodge Challenger with sleek gold lettering. But, this vehicle is not provided by the county. The upkeep, fuel and other things are his sole responsibility. However, he, without hesitation, uses it to escort funeral processions free of charge. Philpott firmly and proudly believes he serves the people of his precinct.
By Debby Schamber – For the Record
There are 760 constable offices in the State of Texas. What sets Orange County Precinct 3 Constable Mark Philpott apart is his compassion and dedication to the people he serves.
“I put myself in other people’s shoes and I love helping people in the community,” Philpott said. “Giving back to the community is important and for what they have given me by letting me serve as their constable.”
Philpott began his career of serving others when he worked for the city of Bridge City as a laborer. He started working for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in 1990 in the jail. From there he moved to patrol and then a risk diversion officer at West Orange-Stark School District. Philpott also worked as a detective and then moved to the courthouse and served as supervisor of courthouse security. While at the sheriff’s office he also served civil papers and warrants as needed.
Philpott was a man of the people while serving on the city council in Bridge City from 2004-2008. He gave up his seat to become constable since nobody can hold two elected positions at once.
Since then, one thing has remained constant. People needing assistance knew if they went to Philpott he would do his best to help them.
Constables are certified peace officers; they have the same enforcement powers as other peace officers, as defined by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 2.12. They can participate actively in criminal investigations and assist other law enforcement agencies. However, police officers are certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement while constables are commissioned by the governor, according to TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov.
Philpott wanted to learn more about his chosen profession and received his Masters Peace Officers license in 2013.
In many communities, constables work closely with their courts. In addition to performing traditional law enforcement functions, the constable also serves as bailiff for the justice courts and serves subpoenas and papers necessary to the functioning of both the civil and criminal justice systems.
The constable also plays an important role in making sure the judgments rendered in civil cases are satisfied. The constable also must keep accounts of the financial transactions of the office and is responsible for property seized or money collected through law enforcement action or by court, according to TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov.
However, Philpott takes his job very seriously and takes it a step further. Over the course of the last six years, Philpott has escorted 210 funerals. This could have resulted in a large sum of money for himself, but he refuses to be paid for the service. Even if the funeral is on the weekends or requires an escort to a neighboring community such as Beaumont or Port Arthur.
Also at no charge he volunteers his time as security at football games, school function dances and baseball Little League games. He also does complimentary security for fundraising efforts.
“The money is not what it’s about,” Philpott said. “When people pull into a cemetery and wave as they go by and say thanks, that’s enough.”
For the kind-hearted constable, serving eviction papers in the hardest part of his job. He knows it is a business for the landlords. But, when doing an actual “move out” and he sees a family loading up their belongings, it breaks his heart. On occasion, while keeping a watchful eye, Philpott has had to step back to wipe tears from his eyes and gain composure.
“For the landlord it’s business and I respect that,” he said. “But sometimes people just fall on hard times.”
Other duties include serving papers. These papers can come from all over the state. The papers can be for civil citations, summons, writ of execution and writ of sequestrations. So far he has served over 4,000 papers to individuals. Serving papers is not as easy as it seems. Sometimes the person is not available and for an eviction Philpott makes at least two attempts. To serve a citation it may take several attempts as well.
It can be like a cat and mouse game he said of the process. But, he does what is necessary to get the job done.
To make sure he does his job as effectively as possible, Philpott attends a civil process school to be updated on new laws. He also attends a week-long continuing education course specifically designed for constables.
The first day Philpott put his key in the door, he began serving papers. He has worked hard to make sure there is not a backlog of papers to be served.
Although he has a different outlook on to whom the office actually belongs.
“When I took the oath of office, I let people know this is not my office,” Philpott said. “This office belongs to the citizens of Precinct 3 and I work for them.”
Philpott drives a black 2009 Dodge Challenger with sleek gold lettering. But, this vehicle is not provided by the county. The upkeep, fuel and other things are his sole responsibility.
When not at work, Philpott spends time with his wife of 25 years, Babette. She too is known to be kind and caring. The pair does what they can to always help others. Together they have two sons and four grandchildren.