Constables win showdown with Commissioner Garcia over contract deputy program

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Claps, groans, boos and the occasional tears filled the Harris County Commissioners Court Tuesday morning.

"During the Harvey floods I lost my house, and it was the Constables that brought me food," said resident Ricardo Garza as he choked back tears.

Garza was among the dozens of local residents who showed up to speak out against a proposal by Commissioner Adrian Garcia to study the county's contract deputies program.

"There's no item associated with this that's specifically focused on cancelling contracts and eliminating programs," said Garcia.

Garcia says he simply wants to study the long standing program where, in some neighborhoods who can afford to, pay out of pocket for extra constable patrols. Neighborhoods who have relied on this system of increased patrols say it really benefits their communities. The issue is so touchy that every elected constable showed up to oppose it, and they had plenty of support.

Related:Could law enforcement contracts some neighborhoods have with the Harris County Sheriff's Office go away?

"You and I both know you don't like constables," Commissioner Steve Radack said to Garcia, which was met with loud applause.

"If this is political, if this is personal, what it's doing is pitting officers against each other and these men and women on the street," said Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap.

Garcia disagreed, saying he is a strong supporter of constables and has no plans to get rid of the office. However, he did eventually pull down the request for the study, and no vote was taken.

It's unclear at this point if and when a different version of the proposal may reappear. Both sides say they will be watching.

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