Necessity of interim constable questioned

By Kristen Tribe | Published Published Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017
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Wise County commissioners may not appoint an interim constable in Precinct 3, a position left vacant last week when Doug Parr resigned as a condition of his criminal plea deal.

In Monday’s regular meeting, commissioners formally accepted Parr’s resignation and discussed what would happen next. If an interim constable is appointed, he or she would serve only until someone is elected to the post in 2018. Whoever is elected will serve the remainder of Parr’s unexpired term, which started January 2017.

“We’re appointing someone just to get us through an election so people seeking that office won’t have to wait until the end of this four-year term,” County Judge J.D. Clark said.

Since a constable must be a licensed peace officer, Clark suggested Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance, a former police officer, and Sheriff Lane Akin screen applicants and make a recommendation to commissioners.

“But if y’all want to do it another way, you can,” Clark said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White suggested not appointing an interim constable and having the sheriff’s office and other constables serve Precinct 3 papers until the election.

“I think a lot of that’s been done in the past, and it would probably simplify things, instead of appointing someone for only a 15-month period,” he said. “If we appoint someone, I’d like to appoint someone who’s not going to run for the office, so that might limit your applicants.”

Akin spoke up, reminding commissioners the election could be decided in the March primary if there are not candidates from both parties. So far, Cary Mellema of Aurora is the only person who has announced he’s running for the office. He’ll be on the Republican ballot in the March primary.

Akin said his department could help serve the papers.

“It would put a little additional burden on the office, but talking to the guys in civil, I think that’s a doable option for us,” he said.

Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy reminded his colleagues that Precinct 4 has reserve constables that could be utilized. No action was taken Monday, but the issue will be discussed again at the Aug. 28 commissioners meeting.

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