Widely considered the "grass roots" of Houston-area law enforcement and heavily appreciated in the neighborhoods they serve, the very existence of constables was challenged in a recently completed assessment by the consulting group PFM which recommended most funding and all law enforcement duties be transferred to the Harris County Sheriff's Office as a matter of efficiency.
At Tuesday's meeting of Commissioners Court, Precinct 3's Tom Ramsey pressed the issue, urging Republicans and Democrats alike to publicly pick a side, either support the Constables or not.
"The Commissioners Court are 100% behind the Constables and the JP's," said Ramsey.
Factoring heavily in the unanimous vote was a newly passed state law prohibiting the so-called "defunding" of police.
"You cannot reduce resources, funding for law enforcement," said Ramsey.
Tuesday's vote in support of constables represented a position reversal by Precinct 2 Commissioner and former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who last week announced his opposition to the proposed reduction, absorption and phase-out of the eight constables in Harris County.
Urban Reform founder Charles Blain has been tracking the issue closely and believes politics is clearly at play, particularly for Democrats on Commissioners Court.
"I think it’s because we are entering this era when crime is top of mind and we are heading into an election season. The constables are probably the most favored law enforcement officials in our county and [Democrats] don't want voters to retaliate against them this March and this November," said Blain.