Constable Precinct 3
The origins of the office of Constable can be found in England, dating back over 1,000 years. By the mid-seventeenth century, the office had been transplanted to the British colonies in North America. The first American Constable was appointed in 1632 to assist the Justice of the Peace in dispensing justice, enforcing the orders of colonial and county officials in both civil and criminal matters and collecting taxes. Constables in Texas can be traced back to 1823, when Texas was under Mexican rule. The Mexican government authorized Stephen F. Austin, who had been settling colonies along the Colorado and Brazos rivers, to create seven districts with an appointed Sheriff over the entire colony and appointed Constables for each district. The office of Constable was included in the Republic of Texas Constitution in 1836, which provided for the election of a Sheriff and "a sufficient number of constables" in each county. Shortly after Texas became a state, an act passed by the legislature specified that the Constable should be "the conservator of the peace throughout the county," adding that "it shall be his duty to suppress all riots, routs, affrays, fighting, and unlawful assemblies, and he shall keep the peace, and shall cause all offenders to be arrested, and taken before some justice of the peace." Constables were the most active law-enforcement officials in many counties during the early statehood of Texas. After Texas seceded from the United States in 1861, many county offices, including that of Constable, remained unfilled or were filled by men less competent than their predecessors. From 1865 to 1869, over one-third of the county offices in Texas were vacant, and many counties had no appointed or elected Constables during this period. Under the Reconstruction Constitution of 1869, no Constables were elected in Texas from 1869 to 1872, though some were appointed by the Justices of the Peace. The Constitution of 1876 mandated that Constables would once again be elected at the precinct level. It provided for the election of a Constable in each precinct of a county to a two year term, and stipulated that counties may have between one and eight precincts, dependant on population. A 1954 constitutional amendment extended the term of office from two years to four. In Texas, Constables and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with county-wide jurisdiction and as such, may legally exercise their authority in any precinct within their county. They may serve civil process in any precinct in their county and any contiguous county and can serve warrants anywhere in the state. There are five Constables in Travis County, one for each of the Justice of the Peace precincts. The Travis County Constables serve as a law enforcement agency for Travis County, with county-wide jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. They act as servers for writs, subpoenas, warrants, evictions, family violence protective orders, property auctions, juvenile process, or other duties as assigned at the discretion of attorneys and judges. The Constables also process and execute misdemeanor traffic citations and hot check warrants of arrest for Travis County Justice of the Peace Courts, as well as for other municipalities and counties.