Smith County commissioners reduce number of Pct. 4 deputy constables

Tuesday morning, Smith County commissioners filed the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:44 PM CDT
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Tuesday morning, Smith County commissioners filed the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Included in that is a push from commissioners to lessen the budget for the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office. That would mean one less deputy for the precinct, which was not well received by the constable.

Pct. 4 currently has three full-time deputies with one open position. Commissioners are wanting to remove the vacant spot and reduce the Pct. 4 budget from $647,000 to $555,000.

Pct. 4 Constable Josh Joplin, along with other Pct. 4 residents, made it clear they believe there is still a need to keep the four deputies.

“A lot of these large populated areas like Whitehouse and Lindale and areas like that, they have a large law enforcement agency that covers the 911 call volume in that area. As for the 26,000 in Pct. 4, it’s either me or the sheriff’s office,” said Joplin.

He says his office’s efforts go beyond serving papers, as they work some traffic and criminal calls, and prioritize school presence. Community members said that lessening the number of deputies could mean more crime in the area.

“I think a lot of this has to do with politics. I think there’s a lot of political, behind the scenes things that are going on currently. But the way that I feel about it is a detriment to the safety of my community,” said Joplin.

Commissioner Terry Philips and Judge Neal Franklin were in support of the constable’s office. The other three commissioners disagreed.

“There are precincts in our county that have only two full time deputies. In this budget, we need to grow that. But we got to make sure that our dollars are being put where they have to be put, and not where they want to be put.” said Pct. 1 Commissioner Pam Frederick.

“I do realize that every area of the county is different and it’s just always going to be that way. But I can’t justify voting for a position that’s been vacant for months,” said Pct. 2 Commissioner John Moore.

“The word defunding is not even a word that I think even fits what we’re trying to do. I think we’re concerned about what fits the budget,” said Pct. 4 Commissioner Ralph Caraway.

In the end, the majority decided to reduce the deputies.

“That’s not the outcome that I wanted, but at the end of the day, I’m going to continue serving my citizens with the manpower that I have. It’s going to stretch us even more thin,” said Joplin.

Smith County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposed budget on September 5.