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Plenty to do - Scott Jones explains the role of constable


Constable Scott Jones has a tagline, and it can be seen in proud silver letters on the back of two of his three constable vehicles for Precinct 4.

“Proudly Serving Our Courts and Community.”

He says that’s what a constable does, in a nutshell. But not everyone knows that. Among the earliest recorded police officers in the world and the first law enforcement officers in Texas, constables still struggle to be differentiated from the like.

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What's a Constable?

“When I first got the job, there were many times when people would ask, ‘Well, what does a constable do?’” Jones said. “‘Can y’all arrest people? Can you write people tickets for speeding?’”

Yes, they can. The primary job of the constable is to serve the justice of the peace, both by serving civil process papers and acting as bailiffs for the court. However, they also have the same law enforcement authority as any other police officer.

“We’re not being dispatched to calls unless somebody needs assistance of some type, so we have a lot of flexibility when it comes to serving our civil process papers,” Jones said. “About the only thing where we don’t have a lot of flexibility is the court. When court’s in session, me or one of my two deputies have got to be in the courtroom.”

Jones took office in January of 2013 after retiring from his position of more than 22 years as a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent. Before that, he worked as a deputy sheriff for Bexar County in San Antonio for more than four years.

“I think the constable’s office is an extremely good fit for my background and I do like the uniqueness of the non-traditional law enforcement role,” Jones said. “Having said that, I think it’s absolutely essential before pursuing a role like the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission or the constable’s office to have a good, solid foundation in law enforcement.”

Jones’ staff meets his criteria. He has two full-time deputies who work in the office as well as three reserve deputies who volunteer when needed. All six of them hold the highest credentials they can have in the profession.

“There’s a lot of talent in the office, it’s something I’m extremely proud of,” Jones said. “I regularly remind myself of a quote from the late president Ronald Reagan, ‘Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way.’”


Experience matters

In Texas, there are four levels to a peace officer’s license through Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, or TCOLE: basic, intermediate, advanced, and master. Jones and all five of his deputies hold the master level. 

“It’s essential for the constable and deputies to be long tenured, well experienced, with a proven track record and at a minimum, an intermediate level license from the TCOLE before considering such a position,” Jones said. “The constable’s office, whether it be the constable’s position or that of the deputy constable, is not a position for the inexperienced.”

The constable’s office moved from Willow Park to the new sub-courthouse on Old Weatherford Road in mid-February of this year when it opened. The office works closely with Justice of the Peace Timothy Mendolia, who took the bench in January.

Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Tim Mendolia.
Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Tim Mendolia.
“The constables are there for the protection of the court and myself, so they provide their bailiff in that regard, meaning they’re always in the courtroom when I have proceedings going on,” Mendolia said. “And then they also serve papers for me. So, any papers that get filed in my court, they are responsible for serving those papers.”

Both Mendolia and Jones have theories as to why the public has such little knowledge of their professions. Mendolia feels presence in the courthouse is vital to community understanding.

“If you don’t get a traffic ticket and have to come to court, then you really don’t know what goes on,” Mendolia said. “And you can do a lot of that stuff through telephone calls and take care of it, so a lot of times people don’t come to our courthouse to see what actually goes on.”

Jones looks at it from a different perspective. He believes it has to do with constables losing their jobs in the north.

“In Texas, we still have our constables, and most of the other states do, but some don’t have the constable anymore,” Jones said. “So people from the north move down into the area, it’s something they’re not familiar with and I think that’s why you get the question regularly about, ‘What does a constable do?’ and ‘What kind of authority do they have?’”

However, they hope it won’t always be this way. In fact, the sub-courthouse will have its first jury trial in a few weeks, according to Mendolia. This way, people can see what goes on inside the courthouse.

“I encourage anyone to come by and talk to myself or Constable Jones about what we do here and we’re always open to talking to people,” Mendolia said. “They don’t have to be forced to come here because of a traffic ticket or otherwise. We’re always here to talk to people and let them know what we do and help them out in any way we can.


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