PREMONT?— During this month in two separate meetings, the commissioner’s court approved two new positions for reserve deputy assistant constables for only Precinct 1 and Precinct 4 that has left some individuals wondering why.
Each comes with a salary not to exceed $20,000, county audit officials said.
Precinct 4 in the Premont area was approved Jan. 13 for the new assistant position for no more than 32 hours and Precinct 1 was approved on Jan. 23 for the second assistant position for no more than 24 hours a week.
Both are at a salary base pay of $9.61 an hour with no benefits.
Some critics pointed to the big difference in the workload compared to the precincts that received assistants.
According to the Texas Justice Courts monthly reports submitted last year to the state, the following include notices or court papers served per constable precinct.
In Precinct 1, a total of 401 civil suits were served in 2008, Precinct 3 had 29 civil cases served, Precinct 4 totaled 23 civil suits served, Precinct 5 served 60 individuals in civil cases and truancy cases and Precinct 6 had a combined total of 325 cases served in civil and truancy cases.
While local attorneys and deputies are allowed to also serve court papers to individuals, the majority of the court papers served come from the constables’ office.
Five constables are elected to areas that include Precinct 1 Jesus “Chuy” Salinas who takes care of the Alice area, Precinct 3 constable Sonny Crisp who works out of the Sandia area, Precinct 4 Frank Davila who is in the Premont area, Precinct 5 Mike Mitchell in the Orange Grove area and Precinct 6 Bartolo Guajardo who is in the vicinity of the Ben Bolt area.
The constables have a four-year term that runs simultaneously.
The new assistants will be aiding Salinas, who has the most court workload of all the precincts and Davila in the Premont area.
Also county dispatch incidents in 2008 that includes constables being called out or backing up any other deputy in the county are recorded in a data base that shows a gap between precincts.
Precincts vary widely in calls with Precinct 1 accounting for four calls last year, Precinct 3 had 238 calls, Precinct 4 had 53 calls and Precincts 5 and 6 have no calls in the system for 2008.
Each constable has a base salary of $35,000 with a car allowance of $11,600 unless the county provides a vehicle, such as in Crisp’s situation. And Salinas has a salary of $41, 590 with a car allowance of $14,600 for using his own vehicle.
Davila is also contracted with the Premont school district and offers security during school hours. He is contracted for the nine-month period at $21,500. He said his priority is Premont and Jim Wells County. He has worked with the district since August 2005.
“The county is my first priority and security is my second,” Davila said. “I’m not locked in to the school, if a call comes in, I respond to the call.”
Davila said besides serving court papers, he goes out to accidents, assists DPS and Premont police.
He said working with the school does not restrict him to the school.
“We live in a rural place and the sheriff’s department can sometimes be short handed and we respond to help out,” Davila said.
Davila said since he was the first to get an assistant reserve deputy constable, he ruffled some feathers.
He said he works extra hours and has a second job at the school just like any other law enforcement officer who takes a security job at a dance hall or a restaurant for extra money.
“What’s the difference of working here at school or moonlighting at night at a dance,” he said.
“The school needs protection also…we are in an area where there is a lot of smuggling, aliens and drugs and we’d like to beef up patrol.”
Davila said individuals that criticize need to look at the overall work he does.
“It’s about the people of Jim Wells County, not just Precinct 4,” he said. “Basically, we want everyone to work together.”