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.