Houston constables to become deputies

wcrenshaw@macon.comOctober 15, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The title of “constable” is going away in Houston County.

Houston County Magistrate Court has three constable positions, with one vacant, but the Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to make them sheriff’s deputies.

It’s more than just a name change. The constables will undergo training to become certified law enforcement officers and will work under the supervision of the sheriff’s department.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said Sheriff Cullen Talton and Chief Magistrate Judge Bob Turner are in agreement about the move.

Turner was at the meeting and said it is mostly being done for safety reasons. The constables serve papers related to civil cases. Most of those are notices that a person is being sued, and most of the suits are related to unpaid debt.

However, the constables also perform tasks such as serving eviction notices and supervising forced evictions.

“We have not had any incidents, but I’ve always been concerned that we could,” Turner said.

The constables do not have radios, and if they have trouble they have to use a cellphone to call for help. As deputies, they would alert a dispatcher each time they got out of the car to serve a notice, Turner said. They would also be able to carry firearms and could make arrests.

The Magistrate Court has been getting steadily busier, Turner said, as the economy has soured. He said the court handled 10,000 cases last year.

One of the constables has prior law enforcement experience and needs only to renew his certification, Turner said. The other will have to go through the full training. They will get raises as a result of the additional training.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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