GALVESTON — Some constables and other elected officials gathered outside the county’s justice center Monday to protest proposed budget cuts they said would hamper law enforcement in the county.

Commissioners have said the cuts would save the county more than $500,000, and help consolidate the number of constable’s offices to fit with the coming redistricting of the justice of the peace precincts.

The county is preparing to reduce the number of precincts from eight to four.

All eight current constables will serve in the new districts until their terms expire, with most constables sharing precincts under the proposed new plan.

Tom Barbee, field representative for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said the cuts would prevent law enforcement from performing “basic services” for residents in Galveston County.

He said the redistricting and proposed cuts would require some residents to travel up to 102 miles to visit a justice of the peace court, and would limit constable’s offices from serving as backup to municipal law enforcement agencies throughout the county.

He said justices of the peace and constables were left out of the budgeting process until recently.

Justice of the Peace Penny Pope and several constables have already filed a lawsuit opposing the redistricting. Barbee said CLEAT was open to “any remedy” to ensure the proposed budget cuts don’t happen and urged residents to call commissioners to voice their opposition.

Precinct 4 Constable Jimmy Fullen said the proposed budget and staff reductions were arbitrarily decided and particularly unfair to three of the eight offices, including Precinct 4.

Fullen, Precinct 5 Constable Michael Montez and Precinct 2 Constable Terry Petteway would not have any staff members under the proposed new budget.

Precinct 3 Constable Derreck Rose said his office was “already trying to stay afloat” with a busy workload. He said constables would struggle under the proposed budget cuts.

He said commissioners left justices of the peace and constables in the dark about the proposed cuts until last month.

“We were never consulted,” Rose said.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.

(4) comments

Dwight Burns

With the County growing by leaps and bounds, seems we would be adding more Constables and JP's rather then reducing their numbers.

The citizens of Galveston County have only themselves to blame for this turn of events because they voted for the individuals who are making the cuts.

Carol Dean

Very happy to see many of our County elected officials present yesterday to support our Constables. Of course, that does NOT include any of the Commissioners or King Henry.

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

Be Clear. The county's primary emphasis is in unincorporated areas. The city and School Districts should be handling those incorporated areas.

Some constables are excellent. Some are poor. Some I'd give an F to, if they had to get a grade.

First priority under the constitution, serve warrants. Many blow it off. Serve as Bailiffs. Generally they do that. Then they ask for a lot more staffing to "fill in" for local government. Cities and schools truly need to handle their own needs under their own tax rates, ...not shift it to the county because they are getting near capped. That's what happens.

The sheriff's office is the one to be the main "on point" for unincporated areas of the county. Constables are definitely secondary, not primary. In the end, a properly staffed city police force, school district police force, and county sheriff's off, would remove the argument for supplemental constable staffing. The proper costs should go to the proper places. They can DEFINITELY help, but if we swear in 50% of the county, that might help too. You have to decide what's reasonable.

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

These deputh constables should go to League City that is currently offering a sign on bonus. If they can't get hired, then look into why. Were they taken in by an elected constable because they were elected and no longer hireable elsewhere? Not common,...but it happens.

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