Commissioners table reserve deputy discussion

SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Commissioners Court tabled a discussion Tuesday on possibly changing the number of unpaid reserve deputies allowed in the county, delaying any decision by at least two weeks.

Judge Nelson Wolff and Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert indicated that more time was needed for fact-gathering and analysis. Wolff remarked from the dais that county staff members would need to provide a recommendation if commissioners wanted to change the 1999 policy that set the current levels of reserve deputies allowed.

“I think the members of the court need to get some more information on specific numbers that the constables have in terms of reserve (deputies),” Calvert told KSAT after the meeting.

Constables are allowed to appoint people to the unpaid reserve deputy positions, but only if the Commissioners Court provides for it. The commissioners also have the power to limit how many reserve deputies a constable can appoint.

Wolff told KSAT last week that the Commissioners Court wants to know how the reserve deputies are used.

According to state law, reserve deputies, although unpaid, have the same “rights, privileges and duties of any other peace officer” when on duty for a constable. Much of what deputy constables do revolves around serving paperwork, handling evictions and providing security for Justice of the Peace courts.

A Bexar County policy from 1999 currently permits up to 30 “full-time reserve deputy constables” and between 50 and 80 “part-time reserve deputy constables” per precinct, though constables say the terms are outdated. The same policy includes reporting requirements on the number and use of reserve deputies in each precinct — something that appears to have lapsed for several years, at least.

County Manager David Smith has asked the four constables to provide that information.

“If they don’t have the records, I’m not sure how we’ll respond to that,” Smith said. “We’ll have to evaluate the quality of the information we get, and that will affect our recommendation on how many reserves are actually needed."

Constables say reserve deputies help their offices’ operations, and they are well qualified.

Precinct 1 Constable Ruben Tejeda estimated 80% of his reserve deputies were Master Peace Officers — the highest proficiency awarded by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Tejeda said his reserve deputies help provide security at events, which helps to save local organizations money. They also help fill in standard constable work.

“Right now, I’m lacking three deputies to do warrants, three deputies to do civil and two clerks," Tejeda said. "We weren’t given anything this past year. So I have to rely on the officers that are not getting paid to volunteer and do all these things.”

The next Commissioners Court meeting is on Dec. 17. It’s not clear if county staff will have a recommendation finished by then.

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