Constables Texas' Oldest, Most Misunderstood Law Enforcement Agency

by Morgan Montalvo


Somewhere  between city police departments and county sheriff's offices, small but  prolific law enforcement agencies quietly go about their duties in  communities across Texas. 

Constables  were the first named peace officers in Texas, dating back to the era of  the state's independence and retaining the title still in common use in  many parts of the world, Bexar County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Lt.  Russell Brandau tells News Radio 1200 WOAI. 

Constables  offices are organized by precincts, political subdivisions that  sometimes overlap neighboring municipal borders within a county.  

In  Texas, a constable's primary duty is serving in justice of the peace  courts, Brandau says, “providing security and acting in the capacity of a  bailiff.” As court officers, constables deliver legal documents,  including court subpoenas and summons, and also are called to  potentially explosive non-criminal situations such as evictions,  repossessions, and child custody enforcement. 

“The officer is there to maintain peace and civility amongst the parties involved,” says Brandau. 

Professor  Meagan Hollis with Texas State University’s Criminal Justice Department  says constables are the protective agency of choice for non-emergency  public safety duties. 

“They  respond to provide security during fires, and to control traffic flow,”  Hollis says. “They do details around construction to make sure that  construction workers and the public stay safe.” 

ConstableS  also watch over sporting events, work closely with school district  police, and patrol neighborhoods that report criminal activity within  their jurisdictions. In  some larger Texas cities, including Houston, constables are responsible  for traffic enforcement on toll roads and high-occupancy vehicle lanes.  

Deputy constables often serve on anti-drug task forces. Constable's offices are among the state's smallest, and often under-funded law enforcement agencies.  

“Because  of the responsibilities that we do have,” Brandau says, “we’re  sometimes just a little bit manpower-short, and the days are too short  to fit it all in.”   

 In Texas, the chief constable is an elected position. 

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content