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TEXAS CONSTABLES--Historical Overview--
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Constables began making contributions to Texas History in 1823 when two were appointed by Stephen F. Austin's original colony, a group of western settlers who expanded rapidly into the territories of the Texas Republic. Under the constitutions of 1836, 1845, and 1861,(qqv) a constable was elected biennially from each militia captain's precinct. Under the Constitution of 1866qv the term was extended to four years, and under the Constitution of 1869qv five constables were appointed for four-year terms by the county board. The Constitution of 1876qv provided for the biennial election of a constable from each justice of the peace precinct. A constitutional amendment in 1954 lengthened the term of office to four years. Duties of the constable include serving processes, attending the sessions of the justice court, and, in general, performing the usual duties of precinct peace officers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Guide to Texas Laws for County Officials (Austin: Texas Department of Community Affairs, 1988). Dick Smith, The Development of Local Government in Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1938).

In 1954, Constables status as Peace Officers was upheld under article 2.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. They are commissioned by the Governor of Texas as Law Enforcement Agencies just as the Sheriff's Department or Texas Department of Public Safety. Constables are associate members of the Texas Department of Public Safety under section 411.009(a) of the Government Code. Their "original" jurisdiction is anywhere in the county of election and is statewide in most criminal as well as civil matters.

To meet the challenges and demands of taking on the full responsibilities of Peace Officers and the added liabilities of processing civil cases, Texas Constables MUST be licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education by attending a Basic Police Academy, which is a 560 hour school at this time. Anyone may run for election as a Constable; however, they have only 270 days after taking office to meet these State Peace Officer licensing requirements. On day 271 they are to be removed from the position by a quo warranto proceeding in State District Court if they fail to meet the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement standards as published in the Texas occupational codes.

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