More than 100 newly elected Texas Constables converged on Sam Houston State University for training on their positions provided by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.
LEMIT is handling its largest class ever of new Constables and had to split the training into two sessions. There were 148 new Constables elected or appointed within the last two years, and each is mandated by the Texas Legislature to participate in the biennial training program on the roles and duties of a Constable, citations, evictions, liability, office management, writs and protective orders. The second class will be held in January 2013.
“The program is an opportunity for the Constables of Texas to learn from the instructors and from each other, and how their role is so important in the community they serve,” said Dr. Rita Watkins, Executive Director of LEMIT.
In Texas, Constables and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with countywide jurisdiction. Their responsibilities may include serving civil process, executing warrants issued by Justice of the Peace Courts, providing bailiff services to JP Courts and offering patrol, investigation and security services. In 2000, there were 760 Constable offices in Texas, with some of the largest employing 300 deputies.
During the five-day training, experienced Constables from across the state provided sessions on the day-to-day operations of the office. Harris County Constable Ron Hickman of Precinct 4 gave an overview of the role and duties of the office and provided insight on law enforcement ethics and liabilities of the job.
Kim Vickers, Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education, provided information on the rules and forms for licensed peace officers who work in the agency. Chief Deputy Aaron Tyksinski of Fort Bend County Precinct 3 discussed office and records management in the Constable’s Office.
Denton County Constable Michael Truitt of Precinct 2 presented information on citation powers of the office, while Deputy Constable Chuck Copeland of Nacogdoches County Precinct 1 talked about the role Constables play in evictions. Fort Bend Constable Rob Cook of Precinct 3 covered writs, which are written court orders, and executions, which are enforcing decisions made by the courts.
The session closed with a question and answer session with Constable Truitt, Constables Bobby Gutierrez of Williamson County Precinct 3 and Chad Jordan of Hood County Precinct 4.
In addition to the training for new Constables, LEMIT provides continuing education for Constables every four years on emerging issues and trends in the profession. Among the topics discussed in those sessions are emotional survival, ethics/leadership, and additional training in writs, citations, collection and detecting deception.
Finally, LEMIT hosts an intensive, nine-week education program for Constables and supervisors called the Texas Constable’s Leadership College, which cover all aspects of modern law enforcement management techniques, styles and philosophies. Held in three week modules, the program covers leadership and management principals, including intensive communication skills; political, legal, and society environments of contemporary law enforcement; and differences in cultural issues.