5/11/2007Texas: Warrant Servers Busy Running Speed Traps
North Texas constables are focusing on issuing traffic tickets even though their primary duty is to serve arrest warrants.
County constables in North Texas are ignoring their primary warrant serving responsibilities in order to issue speeding tickets. In Dallas County, constables have issued $49 million worth of citations even though 92,000 arrest warrants await service. Dallas County Constable Mike Dupree's precinct issues an average of 1700 traffic citations per month. His jurisdiction has 24,000 unserved warrants.
Texas law establishes that constables have all the powers of a peace officer, but their sole duty is to issue warrants. "A constable shall execute and return as provided by law each process, warrant, and precept that is directed to the constable...." (Texas Code, Section 86.021)
In the late 1990s, DeSoto passed a resolution asking the Dallas County constables to stop running speed traps in the city. Constables have flouted the city council's wishes and continue to ticket residents. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price told investigators with KTVT-TV that he preferred having constables issue tickets because there isn't enough space in jail for those with a warrant out for their arrest.
"I am going to have to manage the beds I have, and if I have to manage them, then I will give the beds to the more serious offenders," Price said.
Constable Dupree faces far more serious charges than running speed traps. As reported in the Dallas Morning News, three male deputies filed sexual harassment charges against him. A petition was filed in March seeking to remove Dupree from office.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODESource: Constables Gunning For Your Car (KTVT-TV (TX), 5/10/2007)
CHAPTER 86. CONSTABLE
SUBCHAPTER C. POWERS AND DUTIES
§ 86.021. GENERAL POWERS AND DUTIES. (a) A constable shall execute and return as provided by law each process, warrant, and precept that is directed to the constable and is delivered by a lawful officer. Notices required by Section 24.005, Property Code, relating to eviction actions are process for purposes of this section that may be executed by a constable.
(b) A constable may execute any civil or criminal process throughout the county in which the constable's precinct is located and in other locations as provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure or by any other law.
(c) A constable expressly authorized by statute to perform an act or service, including the service of civil or criminal process, citation, notice, warrant, subpoena, or writ, may perform the act or service anywhere in the county in which the constable's precinct is located.
(d) Regardless of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, all civil process may be served by a constable in the constable's county or in a county contiguous to the constable's county, except that a constable who is a party to or interested in the outcome of a suit may not serve any process related to the suit.
(e) The constable shall attend each justice court held in the precinct.
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