FROM STAFF REPORTSSince he took office in 2005, Hays County Pct. 5 Constable Matt Mancillas III says he has limited his focus to a constable’s duties under the state constitution: To serve legal papers such as court summons and eviction notices and to act as bailiff for the local justice of the peace.
“I always try to remember who I work for and why I was elected. I stress to my deputies, to my clerk — to everyone who works for my office — that our mandate is the service of legal process,” Mancillas (R-Buda) said this week at a candidates debate hosted by the Kyle-Buda Republican Group.
His two opponents in the Republican Party primary on March 1, deputy constable John Ellen and retired sheriff’s deputy Mitch Johnson, want the Buda agency to widen the scope of its activities to include more traditional law enforcement functions. At recent candidate forums, Ellen and Johnson have said they would task deputies to enforcing traffic laws and assisting other agencies with arrests and investigations.
“I would like to build a constable’s office that is a professional office that does more than just one-dimensional service of civil papers. … There are other things we can do because we are all police officers. So I’d like to be in a position where we can offer more services, other than just our basic mandate,” Ellen said.
Mancillas says “more services” is a euphemism for one thing: Generating revenue through fines and fees. He said, “That’s what they want to get into. They want to expand our office, make it larger. And they want you all to pay for it.”
Education: Master’s degree in political science and public administration. Bachelor’s degree in psychology. Master peace officer. 6,700-plus hours of law enforcement training.
Experience: Licensed peace officer for 35 years; 14 years executive/command experience, 10 years Supervisory experience. 3,500-plus hours of law enforcement instructor experience.
Education: Master Peace Officer certification
Experience: 36½ years of law enforcement experience, 27 years with Hays County.
Facebook: Johnson campaign
Education: Master Peace Officer certification, Capital Area Planning Council Regional Training Academy. Bachelor’s degree in psychology, Southwest Texas State University.
Experience: 20-plus years in law enforcement including experience as patrolman, investigator, deputy constable, mental health worker and probation officer. Constable since 2005.
Facebook: Mancillas campaign
Q: What do you think are the most important responsibilities of the constable’s office?
Ellen: In addition to their basic constitutional mandates, constables have the responsibility of providing traditional law enforcement services and should be committed to the safety and security of citizens and their families; visible and proactive in their approach to law enforcement functions; involved in the community and responsive to its unique needs and values; accessible, accountable, and focused on service to the citizens they serve.
Johnson: To maintain a high standard of quality of law enforcement service, building trust and relationships with the public. Treating the public the way I would want my family treated with respect and dignity. One of the ways to meet these standard is through the continued training and education for all the officers. Also working with all the public safety agencies, courts and serving all the civil process and warrants that is sent to the department.
Mancillas: The most important responsibility of the constable’s office is to properly and effectively execute civil process. As licensed peace officers, we ensure that no citizen is deprived of monies, property, or personal liberty without the full due process afforded to them by civil law. It is imperative to me that our department treats all people with dignity and respect.
Q: What emerging problems do you foresee in the constable’s office and how will you address them?
Ellen: Historic growth levels in Hays County have created the need to adapt established law enforcement models to reflect emerging trends and community standards. I will address this challenge by forming active, working partnerships with area law enforcement and governmental agencies, community organizations, and citizen groups, to identify and address challenges as a cohesive group centered on proactively managing community opportunities.
Johnson: Hays County is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. This will mean and increase in calls for service by law enforcement along with an increase in court cases being filed and civil process being served. As Constable I will try to work with the assets that I have along with working with the commissioners court and seek grant funding to have adequate staff and equipment to keep up with the growth and meet the needs of the public.
Mancillas: Our greatest challenge is managing the increased amount of civil process caused by the explosive growth in the area while maintaining the level of service our citizens have become accustom to. With growth comes the need for additional resources and personnel. I will continue to carefully and responsibly manage the department’s budget and ensure that any additional resources are appropriate and necessary.
Q: What should be the minimum qualifications for the position of constable?
Ellen: Minimum qualifications should align with those of other law enforcement chief executives and should include broad and extensive law enforcement experience, significant executive/command level experience in a law enforcement agency, and the proven ability to organize, manage, and direct, personnel toward established goals. The important qualification is the ability to inspire personnel to focus on service to the community.
Johnson: The minimum should be as stated in Texas Local Government Code 86.0022. I feel the candidate Should hold a minimum of a Master Peace Office certification and live in the precinct you want to hold the position of Constable for a minimum of five years. Along with some experience in serving civil process in order to be able to supervise Deputies working for you that are serving civil process.
Mancillas: I believe that the minimum qualifications required by law for the position of Constable are sufficient. However, having served as the constable since 2005, I find that it helps to possess a formal education and relevant work experience. Buda has a diverse community and being able to communicate in multiple languages, including Spanish and American Sign Language, has greatly enhanced the effectiveness of my position.Email | Print