Harris County Precinct 4 constable Mark Herman was a kindergartner on the north side of Houston where he grew up when his class received a guest visit from someone who would forever change his life: a police officer.
“Ever since that day and that age, I was always intrigued [by law enforcement]—seeing the guns and the handcuffs and all that,” Herman said. “I’ve always wanted to be a cop.”
More than 40 years later, the 51-year-old Houston native was appointed the new constable by Commissioners Court at a special meeting May 19. Herman—who has worked for the constable’s office for three decades—took over for Ron Hickman, who was appointed as the new Harris County Sheriff by Commissioners Court a week earlier to replace Adrian Garcia.
“I’m very passionate about law enforcement,” Herman said. “My main concern is public safety and the trust of the people we serve.”
What has it been like stepping into Ron Hickman’s shoes?
I worked for 15 years under Constable Dick Moore and then 15 years under Constable Ron Hickman. Those two guys have two totally different management styles, but my goal is to mold and adapt my own leadership for the department to lead us from this point on. I know I have very big shoes to fill. [Hickman] has been very progressive in the community-oriented policing aspect and in technology [with]computers in cars [and]computers here at the office. Probably a large percentage of what we do is paperless, so he’s brought us up to the computer age.
How much of a challenge does the rapid growth in Precinct 4 present to the constable’s office?
It’s challenging to us. We’re one of the fastest-growing [communities]in Harris County. We here at Precinct 4 are accustomed to rapid changes. [The] communities we serve are different, and through the years we’ve come to understand and realize that each community is different. One community’s needs may be burglary prevention or traffic enforcement. It’s very important that we mold and adapt to those needs. Since I’ve taken office, I’ve put a couple of things into effect. Mobility is a very big thing out here, and it’s important to me. If we have situations where traffic lights are flashing red, my folks are going to get out and do one of two things. They’re either going to get out and direct traffic to clear it up or they’re going to fix the box. [When] we work traffic and we pull somebody over, we’re not going to pull them over on Cypresswood [Drive]. We’re going to pull them over on a side street to keep mobility going.
What new initiatives do you plan to put in place?
We’re going to continue to be progressive and continue to be community oriented and listen to our community. Here in the past month since I’ve been in office, I’ve been on what I like to term a listening tour to listen to folks about what they think about Precinct 4 as a police department and what they think about the police products we deliver. A lot of it’s good, but a lot of it’s not good. They say, ‘We think you should do X, Y and Z.’ They’ve got my ear, and I am listening.
Reporting a Crime
For more information on the Harris County Precinct 4 constable’s office, to report a crime and for non-emergencies, visit www.cd4.hctx.net or call 281-376-3472. For emergencies, call 9-1-1.
What are the most common crimes your department addresses right now?
We deal with a variety of things. The kids are out so we’re dealing with juvenile disturbance calls. [We deal with] domestic violence calls in the evening [and]burglary calls. We have police chases, pursuits [and]aggravated robberies. We have everything. In the summertime we have an increase in juvenile disturbances.
How important is the regulation of human trafficking in Spring?
It’s very important. Some of these massage parlors are unlicensed. They’re out here violating the law—the same thing with gaming rooms. These establishments bring criminal activity to our area. That’s a known fact. So it’s very important [to enforce the law]when we have these [illegal businesses]. On our website, you can report these to us so our guys can look into them to make sure there’s a check and balance there so we’re not bringing undue criminal elements out to our society.
What type of preventive programs does your office encourage?
Through the year, I do all kinds of prevention stuff. We’re gearing up right now for the back to school initiative. We’ll be putting extra officers out on the streets to work school zones, to catch these folks that are speeding through these subdivisions. Around Christmas time, we do holiday initiatives. We do New Year’s DWI task forces to put the DWI message out there. There [are]a variety of programs we offer.
How does the constable’s office’s duties differ from a sheriff’s office?
They don’t differ. Our duties are the same. Constables have civil and criminal power. The sheriff’s department basically maintains the jail and handles other criminal aspects. We’re both police officers. We both have the same powers. We can see on our computers in our cars the calls they’re running. They can see what we’re running. We back them up. They back us up. It’s a really great working relationship. Now with Sheriff Hickman there, I know how he thinks [and]he knows how I think. So it’s really a win-win for the folks of Precinct 4. He and I have had several meetings, so we have a great team philosophy. Our main goal—it’s not about sheriff’s or constable’s—it’s about public safety. Both of us look at it that way.