Smith County constable addresses ‘veiled threats’ from members of commissioners court

Smith County constable brings attention to ‘veiled threats’ from members of commissioners court
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 7:43 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Speaking before the Smith County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, Pct. 4 Constable Josh Joplin addressed what he called “veiled threats” made by members of the court related to what constables should and should not be doing.

“We consistently get these threats,” Joplin said. “We consistently are told that our statutory duty is to serve papers and bailiff court. And that’s not true. That’s one of the hats that we wear.”

Joplin told reporters while some members of the commissioners court have been supportive of his office’s efforts beyond serving papers, others have not.

“If they see us on a traffic stop, they want to know why we’re stopping a car. If they see us putting somebody in jail or putting a wanted poster on our social media page, they want to know why we’re doing that. And my answer to that is we’re police officers. That’s what we do,” Joplin said. “It’s not the commissioners’ job to dictate what laws we enforce and what laws we don’t enforce.”

Joplin’s reason for speaking at Tuesday’s meeting was an agenda item related to a section of Texas Government Code. The code, not used by the county in recent years, allows the court to sign off on the appointment of deputy constables.

Joplin feared the court might use it to cut back his force in retaliation for doing duties beyond those required of constables.

“It’s strictly procedural,” said Smith County Judge Neal Franklin. “It was procedural when we saw it and we knew we had to do it. And this was kind of made into a bigger deal than it actually is.”

Franklin said the motivation behind the agenda item was in no way malicious, and said a majority of the constables he spoke with had no problem with it. The way he sees it, constables should be handling the work assigned to them first and foremost.

“We want them to make sure they’re getting all their job done as bailiff and serving the papers,” said Franklin.

The agenda item that prompted Joplin’s comments was approved without making any changes to the current number of deputy constables. Franklin said the item will likely become somewhat of a consent agenda item that would not require a vote from the court.