Scroll down to see Kevin Wolff's newest letter to the public to cut Constable Law Enforcement by 1/2
Please sign and send letters to support your Constable's Law Enforcement!!!
We can only win this battle with your help!!!
Or copy the below text and paste it in the "MESSAGE" are of the "Letter to Commissioners Court Below and then submit with your name, date, and the pricinct you live in:
Please note my displeasure that Commissioner Wolff and at least one other member of the Commissioner's Court who have openly supported Kevin's ideas in drastic cuts to constables law enforcement resources and staff by 1/3 and to take away their county ( read taxpayer provided) patrol cars and require them to patrol in their personal vehicles. This is simply unacceptable.
As Commissioner Wolff has made it known that he has the votes in Commissioner's Court to abolish or take away key resources for our constables, please confirm that he is simply boasting and affirm our belief that you would never not consider compromising your integrity, even by the hint of skirting the Texas Open Meeting laws. Please let it be known you oppose Commissioner Wolff's plans and that you support the men and women of our constable's offices.
Please fund each constable as they require so that overtime is not required and regular positions are provided instead and let the police professionals develop the plans and take the necessary steps to implement the community’s safety. Restore their ability to protect our children by scanning for sex offenders in Child Safety Zones.
At a time when law enforcement is under increasing attacks, as well as the ordinary citizen, cutting these officers back is just wrong. As an elected official, I expect you to act on my behalf and not on your personal views or preferences
Below is Kevin Wolff’s latest form letter response to citizens and our corrections of the facts!!!
Again he attempts to spin his Anti Law Enforcement message with smoke and mirrors and omissions of the facts.
Thank you for voicing your concerns about budget recommendations related to the Constables. Unfortunately, there has been a large amount of misinformation sent out. I will attempt to explain the most relevant of those issues here and try to "clear up" any misunderstandings, especially concerning law enforcement.
First, an accurate history of recent activities:
1. In 2013, the Constable Precinct 3 Office was redistricted, which had the effect of decreasing the number of residents served from approximately 650,000 citizens to 400,000 citizens. However, the Constables have never reduced operating expenses to reflect this dramatic decrease in the volume of citizens served. So, despite only having 400,000 citizens, the area is still being served by the number of officers required to aid 650,000. The district population for PCT 3 was about 650,000 before redistricting and is now about 534,000 and is one of the fastest growing populations in Bexar County. Other PCTS had populations of 180,000 with the same staff level we had. After the redistricting, the exact same number of officers remained. We are understaffed for 534,000 just for two of the named duties, while he ignores the other required duties and obligations under the Code of Criminal procedure and other statutes. Understating intentionally the PCT 3 population to 400,000 indicates gross incompetence or an intentional fabrication. This number is accurately reflected in other county offices for planning and research and he knows this well.
2. In addition to the redistricting, the Texas Legislature changed the law for truancy from a criminal offense to a civil offense. This resulted in the movement of all truancy cases from Justice of the Peace Courts to Municipal Courts. This also decreased the amount of work required of Constables and Justices of the Peace. Again, the operating budgets for Constable offices were not reduced to reflect this reduction in the volume of work. Constables have no reduction in overall workloads. Commissioner Wolff cherry picks one or two categories and publishes those while ignoring mandatory functions such as warrants and the demands of PCT 3 citizens for other services. It is not up to Commissioner Wolff as to what should be done, that is a choice of the citizens and he attempts to sidestep the constitutional requirement to get legislative approval and put these issues to a vote of the public and resorts to using his pen and phone to begin his agenda of abolishing constables. The data used is skewed with one precinct being used as the yardstick for comparisons, but that precinct had an influx of Sheriff’s citations of 37000. Without that “metric- i.e., “traffic” all precincts would be about the same for other workloads. The use of traffic is illegal in evaluation police and JP’s, yet it is used here when it was convenient to use but it was excluded for all other purposes.
3. The elected position of Constable was created over 100 years ago to provide a myriad of "law enforcement" activities, to include truancy, warrant service, bailiff duties for Justice of the Peace courts, patrol, etc. However, over time things have changed considerably. The majorities of Bexar County school districts now have their own law enforcement officials or are served by San Antonio Police Department (SAPD). In fact, approximately 80% of Bexar County overlaps with the City of San Antonio and is under the protection of the SAPD. It may surprise you to know that when you are inside the borders of Bexar County, there are upwards of 17 different law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction over you! Our tax dollars pay for all of this. As you can imagine, having 17 various agencies responsible for the same thing in the same area is not the most efficient use of our dollars. Again, merely a distraction to the facts as only constables, sheriffs and city police apply to your families day to day safety for the large part. He even falsely cites the number of agencies in Bexar County ! Constables do not cost taxpayers money when Commissioners do not attempt to micromanage them and they are specifically denies such oversight of constables by the Texas Constitution for good reasons. Constables have produced surpluses in excess of their costs in most years and this year because of meddling in law enforcement affairs by non-law enforce professionals, we will cost about eight cents per resident of precinct 3 per month. Can you think of a better use of eight cents? We are in demand precisely because these other agencies are understaffed and we are able to respond directly to citizen requests in a timely and effective manner.
The Texas State Constitution: He routinely cites the Texas Constitution yet constable as well as Commissioner duties are not contained there. They are in the Local Government Code and other statutes.
Texas Local Government Code Title 3 in accordance with the State Constitution establishes specifics around the organization of each county, with Subtitle B, Chapter 86 establishing the duties of Constables. A Constable is tasked to “execute any civil or criminal process throughout the county,” as well as “attend each justice court held in the Precinct.” Commissioner Wolff uses a lie of omission by simply stating what one statute says and omits the other statutes that do not support his simplistic view. They are certainly not forbidden to act in other law enforcement capacities, but the above duties are what our state constitution requires Commissioners Court to fund. Again, nothing in the Constitution addresses what must be funded by Commissioners Court and that is a fallacy in itself. It is not what Commissioners want, it is what the citizens want which is lost on Commissioner Wolff. In short, the Texas State Constitution says that Commissioners Court must fund Constable offices for warrant service and bailiff duties. This is a lie of omission. On the other hand, the Sherriff county, is mandated by Subtitle B, Chapter 85 to “patrol, by automobile or motorcycle, the highways of the county located outside the corporate limits of the county seat. The officer shall devote all time spent on duty to performing that service and to matters related to that service.” This previous statement is an outright misrepresentation and a grossly inaccurate partial restatement of the Local Government Code. Nowhere does the Code specify that law enforcement is exclusively the Sheriff and this citation, does not exist in use nor is it applicable to either Constables or the Sheriff as it references a program not in use in Bexar County. He implies that you are adequately protected by other agencies and you don’t need constables. Commissions Court must fund the Sheriff's Office for law enforcement activities. This is partially true but is NOT exclusive to the sheriff. Constables and sheriffs have the exact same duties to suppress crime in the county, many citizens prefer constables services due to the responsiveness of those services.
What is being proposed for next year’s budget regarding the Constable offices:
1. As stated above, the workload of the Constables and what the County is responsible for funding has dramatically decreased. This is not "news" to Constables. All of them have been aware of this decrease in responsibility and work, but have done nothing to adjust to these changes. Therefore, the Constables are spending more than $2 million of your tax dollars per year that could either be saved or could be spent on law enforcement activities by the Sheriff's Office. Again, the workload and increases of population are not accurately stated nor are the “costs” as constables are largely self-funding. No truthful metrics were provided to constables and I personally asked and offered metrics so a realistic comparison could be made. My goal was to assist in being part of the team that exists to serve you, not personal agendas.. These truthful metrics were not provided. When the facts do not support you, a repeated lie is used until it possibly becomes the defacto “truth”.
2. The proposed reductions in the Constables’ offices are approximately $1 million for next year’s budget for a total county wide reduction of 17 positions. If their volume of work continues to reflect the current decrease, then another $1 million could be reallocated in the budget for 2018. With fictional metrics, created on the fly and without either law enforcement professionals or citizens input are used, the predetermined results will be shown and those, do not track the needs of the growing population in Bexar County. These cuts, if enacted will result in the loss of millions of dollars of violator provided revenue from warrant fees and a lower level of all services provided by constables due to a lack of manpower and an increased cost to law abiding taxpayers.
1. Every year since I have been on Commissioners Court we have increased the number of law enforcement officers in the Sheriff's Office and will do so again this budget cycle. I have always been and will continue to be a staunch advocate for law enforcement. Going back to my time on the San Antonio City Council, I took the lead on increasing patrol offices by 150 positions. I have continued this effort, to increase the Sherriff’s Office presence in the County. This is a non-applicable defense to his constitutional overreach in Commissioner’s Wolff stated goals of abolishing constables. When speaking of public safety, specifically constable law enforcement he attempts to divert his present irresponsible action by claiming to be the law and order commissioner of the past. That, would be accurate, his support was in the past. He supported constable law enforcement for each of the past seven years up to April of this year during his primary and then, something changed. He is not the law and order commissioner he claims be have been.
2. Both police and firefighters have endorsed me in every election I have won because of that support. Union support, political, self-serving and immaterial to his efforts against constable law enforcement and against the needs and wishes of the citizens he is supposed to serve.
3. In this budget cycle, we have already allocated funds for the building of two substations for the Sheriff's Office. The location of these substations will significantly improve response times, reduce cost and enhance the ability to keep you safe. Buildings do not provide safety. Boots on the ground do. Constable law enforcement costs 40-70% less that other entities providing these law enforcement services. In fact, the reduction of constable law enforcement will lessen public safety and lead to much increased costs as these functions are still required to be performed.
As stated, I will always be an advocate for law enforcement. This is not true on its face, stating it would be irresponsible for him in a previous form letter response, to support constable law enforcement; I would ask was it irresponsible in each of the last seven years when he supported it or just this year with his new agenda? However, I also believe it is my duty to you as my constituents, that I advocate for the most efficient use of your tax dollars. Multiple law enforcement agencies performing the same duties within the same jurisdiction is not efficient. An argument that attempts to divert you from the only metric that matters to people, protect my family and funds constables, yet that simple message is lost when dealing with some commissioners.
Again, thank you for taking the time to express your concerns. It is never a "bad thing" when the constituents we serve voice their opinion. Please do not hesitate to do so, on any matter. It is why I am here, and it is my job to respond to your wishes as best I can. A self-serving statement when many people are being responded to rudely and get no response at all. I was always told to watch what people do, not what they say and I base my observations on him on what he does, as what he says does not often track.
If you do not have time to read entire story, scroll to the end for a summary of the "Facts"
"JUST THE FACTS"
The Modern Constables Role and the Lies of Omission made by Commissioner Kevin Wolff
[Disclaimer: The events referred here started over six weeks ago and my response was in progress from that date and is unrelated to any other event(s)
Some 106 constable deputies and 4 constables perform essential duties every day in Bexar County for keeping both the civil and criminal justice system in business. Simply stated, constables are the enforcement arm of not just the Justice of the Peace but often for County Courts and District Courts, as well. [If you are short on time scroll to the end for the summary version]
Unlike Kevin Wolff's lie of omission " THEY ARE EXCEEDING THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL DUTIES" is his misquoting the constitution and failing to mention some 90 separate duties imposed by law or rules and intentionally sidestepping the mandate that every constable is a peace officer and has mandatory duties as a peace officer that neither the officer or Kevin Wolff has the authority to change. It is brief so I will cite it here"
Article 2.12 The following are peace officers:..
(1) Sheriffs, their deputies, and those reserve deputies who hold a permanent peace officer license issued under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code;
(2) constables, deputy constables, and those reserve deputy constables who hold a permanent peace officer license issued under Chapter 1701, Occupations Code…
Our duties are equally clear:
Art. 2.13. DUTIES AND POWERS. (a) It is the duty of every peace officer to preserve the peace within the officer's jurisdiction. To effect this purpose, the officer shall use all lawful means.
(b) The officer shall:
(1) in every case authorized by the provisions of this Code, interfere without warrant to prevent or suppress crime;....
This is not Kevin Wolff's' first time at misstating or shaving the letter of the law to suit his narrative. On June 7, 2016 Kevin misstated the facts of the law, similar to his misstatement of the law regarding constables and at least one other county official noted: "For Kevin to misuse the law for his agenda is wrong. Simply stated, there is no issue regarding Willie Ng or Blue Armor and any Texas Statute." DA LaHood.
Unlike Kevin Wolff's' omission of these facts, they speak for themselves. It is not up to the officer to pick and choose what offenses they will act on and it certainly is not within Kevin Wolff's authority to tell a peace officer what they can or cannot do by law as shown above: EVERY peace officer SHALL preserve the peace and suppress crime.
Kevin Wolff has made no secret that if he could abolish constables, he would, but as Constables are constitutional officers, he can't. What he has done is proposed cutting the law enforcement resources of constables by taking away 1/3 of their staff, taking their county cars away and making these officers patrol in their personal vehicles. If you can't abolish them, kill morale and withhold proper funding until they cease to exist. On July 14, 2016, Kevin’s alter ego, in the Express News confirms Kevin Wolff’s intentions in “Watch for Wolff to use the county budget in the coming weeks to make that clear” about cutting constable law enforcement personnel and cars.
If Kevin Wolff wants to abolish these peace officers, that is outside his Constitutional authority. That is a choice of the people. Who would perform the duties tomorrow if Kevin Wolff got his way and with a wave of his magic wand, tomorrow constables did not exist. What are these answers:
1. Who would do the work currently performed by constables?
2. Where would the accountability be for this work?
If Kevin's magic abolition wand is passed and 106 officers are out of a job, who does the work? In one scenario, the Sheriff takes over. This would be an increase in cost of well over $ 1,443,120 a year in pay, NOT counting their higher benefits. Bexar County Constables are nearly funded 100% from user fees or fines from law violators, not taxpayer dollars directly. In essence, some Commissioner's wish to abolish a free service to taxpayers! No longer would an officer directly elected in a precinct by his or her citizens be directly accountable.
What is unsaid and never pursued past the rhetoric and misstatement of facts are constables act everyday within both their constitutional authority and responsibilities as well as these other statutes conveniently left out of the anti-law enforcement argument against constables and their deputies. The facts are 188 constables and their deputies have lost their lives in Texas, making up about 10 % of the law enforcement fatalities.
Yet, they are called "low level" by Kevin Wolff's shills at the Express News. To characterize constables sacrifices and contributions as "low level" by folks, who never served a day in a police uniform, in harm's way, is both disingenuous and spineless.
I remember a comment from one of Kevin's Express News shills, stating we are an "unregulated police force” and Kevin’s comment in the same article was "It bothers me anytime any constable steps outside of what I call their constitutionally mandated duties" Wolff said. "One of the things that I've argued every budget session is that we cut back all constables to those duties", January 30, 2016, again no direct discussion between the parties that can come to a solution, only the use of the Express News to gain a little publicity.
The key takes on this, is Kevin's creative use of what our constitutional duties are and at least here, he acknowledged that it is "his" idea of those duties, not reality. As for an unregulated police force, we are regulated by the exact same U.S. Constitution, exact same Texas Constitution and the exact same laws applied to every peace officer and not a single lawsuit or DOJ order has been applied to a Bexar County Constable, to my knowledge, regarding the duties we are performing.
Historically, part of constables duties were passed to the Sheriff many years ago. In JP warrant service and for five years, they gathered dust and the JP court was rendered impotent as no one was enforcing their judgments. If a school zone citation is never enforced, what deterrence and safety does that bring to our children? The accountability was not there and the duty was returned to constables where the accountability always remained.
Now Kevin will claim he has not "proposed any cuts", but that is only formally. Fortunately, he has bragged that he has discussed doing, just this, with his coworkers on Commissioner's Court, boldly stating he has their votes and that he finally, can do something about constables. Not only has he discussed this with other members of Commissioner's Court but other elected officials, as well.
How is this statement another lie of omission? Simply because he hasn't "formally" made a request under his signature, doesn't mean a request hasn't been made by his staff at his direction, which includes the county manager's office.
Instead of being fully upfront with the citizens he serves and the constables he works with side by side, he back doors things. Instead of working on the issues that are of importance to his constituents, by directly dealing with his equal counterparts in the constable's offices to obtain a solution, rather than publicity.
This attempt to kill off constables, a piece at a time, occurs every budget year but Kevin Wolff believes he had the backing of Chico Rodriguez and Paul Elizondo this year, which may or may not be true. Even to communicate the idea of the other Commissioners, skirts the spirit of the Texas Open Meetings Act and I don't think the other Commissioners and County Judge would give up their integrity by pledging votes outside of a lawful meeting.
So what are the practical losses to the public if Kevin gets his way? 1/3 of constable law enforcement staff would be out of work, at a time when his constituents are calling for the exact opposite. From my experience, citizens prefer law enforcement boots on-the-ground as opposed to funding street art.
Taking away deputies county cars and having officers patrol in their personal cars puts officers at risk and removes the ability to patrol and stop violators who are reckless, ends responses to emergencies or just having the loss these marked units patrolling is a loss factor, as it is one of our most requested services.
Scans for sex offenders in Child Safety Zones are even more reduced since Commissioner's refused to process the required agenda forms to authorize their continued use. Commissioner's authorized the expenditure of about $40,000 for equipment and then stalled, on the operating agreement and $4,000/yr license aggreement that is required. Now that critical equipment, used for scanning our schools and school events for sex offenders sits idle, a waste of $40,000 dollars and an example of the ease politics is played by some Commissioner's and some of their staff. This request was sent directly to Kevin Wolff’s office and I have, personally, spoken to him on this issue several times without results.
All of this at a time when public attacks on peace officers and citizens are at an all-time high and likely to continue. Constables prepare for the unthinkable and pray those preparations are never needed, just as you expect us to do.
Isn’t this letter an end-run around directly working with Kevin Wolff and the budget office? No, it is not. I have requested direct meetings with Kevin for over three weeks and have no response. I have requested a meeting with the County Judge, and spoken with him by phone and was waiting for a return call that has not occurred. I called Kevin last on August 8, 2016 to talk this over and he said he would call me back which has not yet occurred, I have met with the County Manager's office but they take their direction from, you guessed it, Commissioner's Court. So no, I have tried to stay within the internal framework of the County and as in the past, I go to the ultimate authority in the county, the residents. I paused for the two major party conventions and considered extending the pause, but with no indication that those who wish to abolish constables are pausing, I decided to get your involvement.
County government is no different than any other form of government; it requires citizen oversight and direction. In this case I respectfully request you go you our web site and on the first page, you can send a letter in support of constable law enforcement efforts and to not just maintain out budget, but increase them to eliminate overtime issues which have been brought to Commissioners over the past several years without resolution and your contact information will be redacted so you can’t be spammed.
Demand that these officers, who are by no means "low level" and who risk their lives in service for 35% less pay than other county officers, keep the county cars so they can continue to do what YOU want them to do, not what a Commissioner or two "think" constables should be doing. Only your voice and instruction counts, as we all serve you.
Urge the County to use common sense and fund the two warrant officer positions in precinct 3 and similar requests from other constables, to reduce or eliminate the use of overtime; lastly, stop the annual attacks on constables to eliminate them by budget cuts, because some Commissioner doesn't like them. Please let them know you want the patrols, you want their presence, you value their efforts, you want the schools patrolled and you want them prepared to act under any circumstances they find themselves in on your behalf.
Use the step above to let Kevin Wolff, Chico Rodriguez, and Paul Elizondo know thier misguided attempts to abolish or defund the law enforcement officers in the four constable offices is wrong for Bexar County, wrong for your safety and opposite of your wishes. Each letter will automatically be sent to Commissioner Wolff and a similar letter urging each other Commissioner to withdraw their support, if it was granted, to Kevin or more likely, just inform them that you do not support Kevin on reducing community safety and urge them to vote Kevin’s proposal down and instruct the County Manager’s office to properly fund constables instead.
With a simple click you can make known your wishes. As without your input, they will take your lack of instruction as support for Kevin's plan.
Constable, PCT 3
Modern Constables Role and the Lies of Omission Made by Kevin Wolff