PLEASE NOTE: Nothing in this publishing or on this website should be taken as legal advice.
2 Hays County Constable Offices Exceed the Norm in Traffic Enforcement During 2021
We requested traffic enforcement data for the 2021 calendar year. We requested the data from each Hays County Constable’s Office. We did this because Texas Constables have three primary missions, but two of them are specifically stated in one Texas statute. The Constable’s Office can be assigned a courthouse security function too. Here are the primary duties of a Constable:
- To preserve the peace within the officer’s jurisdiction
- Reference Texas Code of Criminal Procedures, Article 2.13(a)
- Shall execute and return … each process, warrant, and precept that is directed to the constable and is delivered by a lawful officer.
- Reference Texas Local Government Code, Article 86.021(a)
As you may notice, constables have a primary duty to execute civil process, and to execute warrants. The warrants can be search warrants or arrest warrants. The other part of a constable’s job is to preserve the peace.
This is where we express an opinion (again, this should not be taken as legal advice and is strictly for educational purposes). Preserving the peace is more than enforcing a Texas statute, such as those listed in the transportation code. Preserving the peace would fall under Texas Code of Criminal Procedures, Article 6.06; which states:
Whenever, in the presence of a peace officer, or within his view, one person is about to commit an offense against the person or property of another …. it is his duty to prevent it …
This concept, amongst other case laws, statutes, and other references omitted from this publishing; would show that traffic enforcement is not a primary duty to trump warrant service and civil process service.
A constable can make traffic stops in the State of Texas. The traffic stop is not the dispute; but, the constable must only do such when he is not performing a primary duty, or a breach of the peace is about to occur or has occurred (again, this is an opinion article, not to be taken as legal advice, and is strictly for educational purposes).
An exception to the primary duty function would be an approval from the constable’s County Commissioners Court. This is because the County Commissioners can effect law within the county. So, if the County Commissioners have effected a law to allow the constable to enforce traffic code then it would be an acceptable practice; unless, it conflicts with the Texas Statute. Meaning, the constable would still be required to perform the main function of his office, undeterred from the enforcement activities of the traffic patrol.
Here is where it may get tricky. If a County Commissioners Court did approve a traffic unit for a Constable’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office is using its budget to serve process and warrants the constable should be processing, there may be other matters to consider.
There are Five Constable Precincts in Hays County
In any case, the data received from the Hays County Government represented five constable precincts. The locations covered are:
- San Marcos
- Dripping Springs
None of the offices have a ton of peace officers assigned to them. In reality, there may be ten or less peace officers in each precinct and many have far less than that figure.
Here are the Number of Citations Issued in 2021 by Hays County Constables
In our request, we only requested moving violation citations. We did not request building security type citations. These would be the parking enforcement, or other types of non-moving violation citations issued during the 2021 year. We did not request those types of citations because that is clearly a nexus function to building security of constables; such as Precinct 1 and the Hays County Government Center; where the courthouse is located.
- Precinct 1 – 40 moving citations
- Precinct 2 – 1 moving citation
- Precinct 3 – 0 moving citations
- Precinct 4 – 414 moving citations
- Precinct 5 – 300 moving citations
The numbers represented do not include all stops. They only include the number of citations issued. There could be many more stops, even tripled or five times more stops than represented by citations issued.
One may look at the numbers and believe a municipality, Sheriff’s Office, or other government entity could provide for more traffic enforcement than what is witnessed here. That assessment may be correct; however, when the primary duty is not to enforce traffic, it becomes clear that three of five Constable’s Offices in Hays County follow the statute’s they are obligated to stay within.
Compounding the issue may be a review of the Hays County Government pages for each of the Constable’s Offices with excessive citation issuances. On said website, the county lists five peace officers for Precinct 5 and six peace officers for Precinct 4.
This has spurred other questions and we are waiting for the Hays County Government to respond to our requests for information. Once we receive the information we will publish a follow up to this story.
A Couple of Our Other Reads
You may be interested in reading about a Hays County Constable that mislead Hays County Sheriff’s Office investigators.
Or you may find our publishing on a prior Hays County Constable and his unregistered security business of interest.
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Categories: The Lone Star Review - State