by Morgan Montalvo
1200 WOAI News
Bexar County deputy constables are expressing collective relief after receiving word that Commissioners’ Court will no longer pursue the layoff of 15 officers as a 2019 budget-saving measure, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Andy Lopez, a Precinct 4 deputy constable and head of the Texas Association of County Employees, credits public pressure that followed a media spotlight on the proposal with saving the officer positions.
“We had a lot of voters come in, a lot of people spoke on what was going on; we serve the community very well, and a lot of the community came out and spoke. “Homeowners associations came out and spoke,” Lopez said.
News Radio 1200 WOAI early last week was the first news organization to report the planned personnel reductions.
Taxpayer disapproval followed and public criticism of the plan dominated last Friday’s Commissioners’ Court budget meeting.
Lopez says public opinions expressed about the proposal show that taxpayers want transparency and expect commissioners to support county law officers at all levels, and all parties can now turn their attention to closer working relationships.
“We all need to move together as a team, one cohesive unit,” said Lopez. “And I think we can better serve the community and the county that way.”
The layoffs as envisioned by a majority of commissioners would have been the second targeting deputy constables in the past two years, and amounted to a 20 percent reduction in staff across all four precincts. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff told 'On the Record' on KLRN-TV that the reason Constables were targeted is because they mainly handled truancy cases in the past, and the Legislature has now decriminalized truancy, removing one key duty of Constables.
Precinct 4 community leader Dan Martinez was an early and loud critic of the cuts. He says in fast-growing Bexar County, residents need to constantly educate themselves on the issues to avoid surprises.
“It’s just time for all of our constituents, not only here on the East Side, but everywhere throughout our city and county to get involved,” said Martinez, a longtime member of the San Antonio Crime Coalition who spearheaded the anti-layoff effort on behalf 16 east- and southeast-side neighborhood associations.