CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx. — Several Nueces County Constables oppose Sheriff John Hooper's request that some deputy constables be converted into sheriff's deputies.
"A reduction of my force wouldn't be helpful at all," Precinct 5 Commissioner Frank Flores said. "As a matter of fact, it would really hurt our precinct out here."
The sheriff made his request at a commissioners court budget meeting last week.
"Give me some of those deputy constable positions under my command, under our command, and we will adequately cover Nueces County," Sheriff Hooper said at the July 9 meeting.
Flores says he just reached full staff with 13 officers under his command. It enables him to have four deputies on patrol at any time covering the 380 square mile precinct which ranges from fairly urban Robstown and Calallen to rural Agua Dulce and Banquete.
"We respond to all sorts of calls out here from the misdemeanors to the felony cases," Flores said.
Serious felonies, like murders, require assistance from the sheriff's office with its additional resources. That's part of the reason Sheriff Hooper requested that the deputy constables join his department.
"They don't have the skill sets," Hooper said of deputy constables. "They don't have the assets. We do, and we will develop more of it as the lead law enforcement agency in this county."
Precinct 5 Deputy Constable Valarie Garza left her job at the sheriff's office just over a year ago. She hopes commissioners will deny the sheriff's request, so she won't be eligible for conversion back to a sheriff's deputy.
"I love my community," Garza said. "I love being out here."
Because both the sheriff and commissioners are elected positions, Sheriff Hooper acknowledged that fulfilling his request would likely create a political battle. He also requested that the commissioners court simply approve funding for additional sheriff's deputies positions to help him increase patrols. Any personnel decisions will likely come in the final county budget which commissioners are set to release in September.