Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Constables’ Jobs on the Line in DallasBy: myfoxdfw
Dallas County Constables are on edge as county commissioners discuss eliminating their jobs.
“I’m very concerned,” said Constable Beth Villarreal.
Villarreal fears commissioners will vote Tuesday morning to shift the duties of serving civil papers to the sheriff’s department for an annual savings of $191,000.
“For $191,000 no one is thinking about the community,” she said.
Though the transfer has been planned for a while, Villarreal concedes last week’s incident now under investigation where a deputy constable did not get involved in following a man who kidnapped his two kids and ultimately killed them did further hurt the constables in the eyes of the public.
“We’re already a bruised agency. The perception is already there,” she said. “What happened last week, we can all say, ‘I would have done this. I could have done that.’ But the bottom line, it happened. Now what are we going to do from here?”
And the constable feels like what’s happening is retaliation for deputy constables who testified during the investigations of former Constable Jaime Cortes and current Constable Derick Evans.
“When the numbers don’t add up, when you can’t give a logical explanation on the transferring of these duties, what else am I to think?” Villarreal said.
Commissioner Maurine Dickey said she will vote against the proposal.
“Not only is that retaliation concern me, but also the fact that they fall under the federal whistleblower act,” Dickey said. “It’s kind of like firing the soldiers but not looking at the top brass.”
Employment law attorney Stephen Fox is not involved in the constables’ case. Still, he thinks there is valid concern.
“The county opens itself up or exposes itself to the possibility of a lawsuit,” Fox said.
For constables, the biggest question now is what commissioners will do.
“I mean, we’re as blind as the next person as far as for tomorrow what they are gonna decide on,” Villarreal said.
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