On Sept. 14, Harris County commissioners unanimously voted to affirm that the county having eight constables is an “integral part” of the county’s law enforcement. As such, the number of constables will not be decreasing as some feared.
Commissioner Tom Ramsey made the motion to essentially reject consulting firm PFM’s recommendation to reduce the number of constables from eight to four. The recommendation came from a PFM report released in May, according to documents provided by the office for Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who represents Precinct 2, which includes the Clear Lake area.
Garcia seconded Ramsey’s motion, which passed. By approving the motion declaring the importance of maintaining eight constables, Commissioner’s Court sent a message to PFM that the eight constables are crucial to Harris County’s law enforcement, Ramsey said.
“That’s an important part our of law enforcement and relationships, and that foundation, I think, to make things happen in Harris County is important,” Ramsey said of maintaining eight constables.
Additionally, PFM has recommended limiting funding for and operation of constables to non-law enforcement responsibilities. Commissioners did not mention this recommendation during discussions Sept. 14.
Clear Lake residents expressed concern about the recommendations in September, writing on social media website NextDoor that PFM’s recommendations are not based on community need. With crime up across the county, including in Clear Lake, residents expressed they want and need the protection constables provide.
Commissioner Jack Cagle pointed out two years ago, the commissioner’s court unanimously passed a resolution in support of the county’s constables, and that was not factored into PFM’s report.
PFM’s report includes over two dozen recommendations across several categories, including foster public trust, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, minimize criminal justice system exposure, and align law enforcement funding and structure with county goals.
Garcia said some of PFM’s recommendations are good, particularly the one to coordinate the criminal justice system’s role of victim services. But the report also includes recommendations that may not be possible under new laws. Garcia did not specify which recommendations these are.
“I’m disappointed that PFM doesn’t take the time to understand the statutes involved, and for that reason, I cannot accept this report,” he said.