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Constable Patrol


heightsfan

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Good Afternoon All,

Hope your week is going well!

Does anyone have any insight to a Constable Patrol car that I have seen

many times over the past few weeks patrolling near Studewood?

Is this part of the Constable Patrol program? How is this being funded?

What areas of Studewood are being patrolled?

Thank You

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Good Afternoon All,

Hope your week is going well!

Does anyone have any insight to a Constable Patrol car that I have seen

many times over the past few weeks patrolling near Studewood?

Is this part of the Constable Patrol program? How is this being funded?

What areas of Studewood are being patrolled?

Thank You

If I am not mistaken, your civic club hired a constable for $60,000 per year. It is being funded by your neighbors at a cost of $250 per household.

Every question you want to know about this program is located here. Karen Derr is the organizer.

http://www.houstonheights.org/pdf/Constable%20Patrol%20Pilot%20Brochure%206-26-06.pdf

For more details on the Constable Program in the Heights

In reality, it took the Houston Heights about 2 years to get the program started.

Houston Heights July 10, 2006

Constable Patrol Program

Frequently Asked Questions Contact heightspatrol@houstonheights.org

When would constables patrol? Morning, noon, night, or 24 hours?The patrol frequency will depend on the service for which we contract. The base level of contract is for an

8 hour period 5 days per week. We can choose which 8 hours (in a row) and which 5 days (in a row) we

want. If we decide to contract for additional service, it is possible to have 24x7 service.

Which 8 hours / 5 days will the constable be employed?

The participants in a contract area choose the days and times, which per the contract must be five

consecutive days per week and eight consecutive hours per day. In deciding what days and times would

be the most useful, we have looked at the crime statistics for the pilot area (i.e., 4th St. to 11th, Heights to

Studewood). Based on the statistics HPD reports (which do not include vandalism such as graffiti), it

appears that crime in our area peaks after 10:00 pm, so we plan to contract for a 10:00 pm to 6:00 am

shift. We think the days will certainly be Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We have talked about Thursday

through Monday but welcome any specific recommendations.

Rather than 5 days, why couldn't it be for 7 days?We can have seven day service; we just have to pay for it. That means more than one contract deputy

for our area and more cost (~$60,000 per contract). I think many folks would like to have 24x7 service.

Once we get the first contract in place we can see if there is interest in increasing the service.

Cost of Service

What is the cost?

The base contract for an 8 hour period 5 days per week plus administrative costs is approximately

$60,000. The cost per house will depend on the number of homes that participate. Our goal is to have

240 homes and/or businesses participate, bringing the cost to $250 annual cost per participant.

How does a community pay for this kind of service?

Participants in the neighborhood will pay one time per year for the service. The planning committee will

discuss potential ways to manage the collection process. The constable’s office takes no part in the

collections process; we will pay them one time per year when we have a signed contract ready to be

implemented.

If we get over the $60,000, why can't we reduce the cost?

Our goal is to increase the patrol to more than 8 hours/day, 5 days/week. Monies above the first contract

will go towards the second contract. If we can't get enough participants to get to the subsequent contract

(up to 24x7), the additional monies collected will be applied to and reduce the second year rates.

I would like to be a part but can not afford $250 a year and especially if I have to pay for all of it

upfront. Will we be able to make smaller payments during the year?

We want everyone who wants to participate to be able to participate. We will work with neighbors who

request a payment plan on a case by case basis. We also want neighbors to be able to partner with

neighbors or make additional contributions to cover a pool for neighbors on fixed incomes or those who

cannot afford the payments. This is obviously a delicate balancing act of quantifying financial need, being

respectful and understanding the numbers of people who find $250 a year a difficult number to meet.

Importantly, we will be signing a $60,000 contract and need to make sure that enough people keep up

with payments to cover the cost!

When are annual rates set? How much is the typical change?

Commissioners Court sets the rates. Rates are set for each January through December period. Rate

increases are typically around 2.5%, have been as high as 5%. If we sign a contract to begin in August,

the contract would be for August through December, with the annual fee prorated for 5 months. We

would then need to sign a new contract for 2007.

Patrol Services

What would the boundaries be? Do the constables serve only the people who pay for the service?

One officer can efficiently patrol an area of about 1,200 homes, which is approximately 54 blocks in the

Heights. Within that area, there will be households that participate and households that do not

participate. Members of the Constable Patrol Program receive privileges of Vacation Watch Services,

Special Watches, Home Security Inspections, and direct access to Precinct 1 Dispatch. The entire

neighborhood benefits from the street patrolling which serves to raise the level of security in our

neighborhood. However, since the constables are Texas peace officers, they cannot refuse service to

someone who calls them with a need.

Who can participate? Residences? Businesses?

Both residences and businesses can join the patrol program. The annual subscription cost is $250 per

year per lot as platted by HCAD, up to a double lot (6,600 square feet x 2 or 13,200 square feet). Homes

or businesses on double lots pay one subscription fee. Above 13,200 square feet, an additional $250 per

lot is due for service.

What kind of patrol? Cars? Bikes? Horses? Motorcycle? And how many?

One officer with patrol car per contract (i.e., one 8 hour per day / 5 day per week contract). Bike patrol

might be possible if we get a more extended contract.

What will they patrol for: break-ins homes/cars, graffiti, loud noises, bandit signs, parking

violations, speeding, etc.?

Generally yes to these types of issues. Additionally, participants with specific concerns can call them in

to the dispatcher.

What are the procedures for handling certain types of crimes/incidents?

Traffic Accident – the deputy will work the accident much like HPD. Collect information and file report.

Gunshot – Deputy will pull in back up from other Constables or from HPD; investigate the incident; make

arrest as appropriate.

Missing Child – HPD will be called in to follow appropriate missing child procedures.

Can the constable deputies make arrests? Will they carry firearms?

Yes, since the constables are Texas peace officers, they have arrest and ticketing powers and carry

firearms. If an arrest is warranted (i.e., DA has to approve all arrests, similar to HPD), the perpetrator is

taken to jail (either County or Houston). Arresting officer must take the offender to jail and fill out paper

work, during which time the deputy will be out of the contract area and off patrol. Typically, the deputy will

be off patrol for 1-4 hours depending on the offence (DUI 2-4 hours, Assault 1-2 hours).

How do deputies handle investigations?

Investigations are passed on to HPD.

Will they just patrol or could we hire them for surveillance/undercover work?

The constables can participate in surveillance work, including plainclothes work if needed to address a

specific problem.

Since the County is contributing 20% of the cost, in what situations can the County pull the

deputies from patrol?

Constables are seldom pulled from patrol in the contracted areas. Usually happens to provide support to

deputy in an adjacent area, or to assist in a large scale event (i.e., terrorist activity, natural disaster, etc).

Deputies will also be pulled from duty for training. The deputy will notify the security liaison in advance.

Are the deputies in direct radio contact with HPD, HFD and ambulances?

The deputies do not have direct radio contact with HPD, etc; have to go through Constable dispatch.

FYI–there are only 6 HPD patrol cars with full radio access to all Organizations. Special equipment is

needed for this functionality.

How do the Constables report criminal activity?

Deputies are required to file a report for all calls. These reports may or may not get reported to HPD.

What access will the Security Committee have to constable dispatch reports or other incident

reports?

The Constables will send monthly reports to the Security Committee. In addition, the public release data

will be available.

Expected Results

What stats did the committee use to determine that our area needs more patrols?

We use the monthly statistics provided by HPD for our police beat 2A30, found online at

http://www.houstontx.gov/police/stats2.htm. As indicated on the HPD website, the reported statistics do

not include graffiti, so we have relied on anecdotal comments from our neighbors, many of whom think

there is a significant increase in graffiti in our area.

Are there some proven results for a non-gated community such as ours?

The constables work hard at visibility, with response times of 2-5 minutes.

Braeswood Place uses Precinct 1's patrol service. I have spoken to residents and the homeowners

association representative and repeatedly am told that they believe the patrol has a significant impact on

deterring crime in their neighborhood. They have 24x7 service with 5 officers, which costs them

$288,000 per year, or about $200 per resident per year. The neighborhoods in the Braeswood Place

area (south of Bellaire Blvd around Stella Link) have approximately 2,200 total homes, and have

traditionally had participation of approximately 1,400 homes per year. Braeswood Place discusses their

security program including specifics of the patrol actions on their website:

http://www.braeswoodplace.org/index.cfm/MenuItemID/107.htm Also see Braeswood Place report on its

monthly activity: http://www.braeswoodplace.org/index.cfm ... ID/157.htm

What stats do we have that assures us that this pilot program is going to be useful?

It's hard to assess the impact statistically and we won't know how it works in our area until we have it.

Anecdotally, from talking to other neighborhoods, such as Braeswood Place, the residents and civic

organizations believe that the service has a tremendous impact. We will continue to monitor the crime

statistics and may adjust the program times if it appears to be necessary.

We have HPD, why do we need to pay for extra service?

This program is meant to supplement HPD, as a way for our community to get more involved. Importantly,

this program is not a referendum on HPD. Mayor Bill White and Police Chief Harold Hurtt both

emphasize the need for community assistance in policing our neighborhoods. The constable patrol

program is a tangible way we can be involved. Both the constables and HPD indicate that the

organizations work well together.

We all understand that there will be some neighbors who choose not to participate and that is their

choice. There are many who think the target $250/year price is ridiculously little to pay for the protection.

Many neighbors have paid far more than $250 to replace bicycles, car windows, repaint their homes or

businesses that have been tagged, etc. Neighbors who have been held up at gunpoint while walking the

dog are thrilled at the idea that there will be a constable patrolling the area. We are paying for

deterrence. HPD does not actively patrol our streets 24x7; the City of Houston simply does not have the

officers or financial resources to patrol all neighborhoods all the time. Some neighbors have had good

responses from HPD, others haven't. At this point, about the best we can expect from HPD is a timely

response. We cannot expect a proactive HPD presence on our streets with the tax dollars we pay now.

Any adult knows that there are financial choices we must all make and the city is no different. Perhaps

there will be a time when a supplemental patrol isn't necessary and we will continue to monitor the

program going forward to make sure it is worth the cost we're paying.

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I am still questioning the value of the constable when a 50 year old man can rob a bank in broad daylight on a bike and ride away with all of the money without being caught.

http://www.click2houston.com/news/10713296/detail.html

With all of the crime that has been happening around the Heights, does anyone have any stories where the constable actually made a difference?

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I am still questioning the value of the constable when a 50 year old man can rob a bank in broad daylight on a bike and ride away with all of the money without being caught.

http://www.click2hou...296/detail.html

With all of the crime that has been happening around the Heights, does anyone have any stories where the constable actually made a difference?

Here is a constable snapshot from Braeswood Place in SW Houston:

The constasbles list what they do and stuff

http://braeswoodplace.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/157/MenuGroup/Constable+Patrol.htm

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I am still questioning the value of the constable when a 50 year old man can rob a bank in broad daylight on a bike and ride away with all of the money without being caught.

http://www.click2hou...296/detail.html

With all of the crime that has been happening around the Heights, does anyone have any stories where the constable actually made a difference?

When I was living down in the museum district, we had a patrol service. One day my downstairs neighbor's ex husband came over, drunk, and started yelling at her in front of the house. He grabbed her, and she screamed for me to call the patrol (she had always talked about how great they were, after a home-invasion incident years earlier). I called the patrol, and told them what was happening. I literally heard his screeching tires 6 or 7 blocks away, and he must have hit 90 on his way over. He ran up to the house, and took care of the situation. While it was one of the scariest moments I've experienced - it was just that: only a moment. The entire incident, from phone call to him arriving, had to have been under a minute. There is NO WAY a HPD officer (nothing against them) could have gotten there that fast, and I know the ex would have made the situation much, much worse shortly thereafter. Cops showed up a few minutes later (he must have radio'd it in).

Worth $250? Hell yeah. Worth 10x that, if you ask me. All you need is one incident to make their service priceless. I wish we had enough neighborhood buy-in around me to get one.

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I am still questioning the value of the constable when a 50 year old man can rob a bank in broad daylight on a bike and ride away with all of the money without being caught.

http://www.click2hou...296/detail.html

With all of the crime that has been happening around the Heights, does anyone have any stories where the constable actually made a difference?

When was the constable program up and running by? That happened two years ago.

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Maybe I am getting my muggings/robberies confused. I thought that I had heard of a robbery just happening at that Wachovia in the middle of the day a week or two ago...maybe it wasn't the one on the bike. There was so much chatter about it because it happened just after that elderly man was robbed at Walgreens in the same shopping plaza. This, plus people's houses being broken into during the middle of the day and having their alarm panels ripped out of the walls...car jackings...stabbings...This is all life in the big city. With all of the folks talking, I haven't heard anyone sing the praises of the Heights constable yet.

I am really happy to hear that the constable program is working in other neighborhoods. Hopefully ours will serve as a deterrent soon here in the Heights.

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I was living in the 12th/Studewood area up until half a year ago and recall reading about Karen Derr floating the idea of getting a constable program started for the area (not sure which part of the Heights). There was some information posted about it (similar to what was posted above) but didnt hear anything about it since nor did I notice constables in the area when I was living in the area. Did the constable program get started?

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I was living in the 12th/Studewood area up until half a year ago and recall reading about Karen Derr floating the idea of getting a constable program started for the area (not sure which part of the Heights). There was some information posted about it (similar to what was posted above) but didnt hear anything about it since nor did I notice constables in the area when I was living in the area. Did the constable program get started?

I think the constable program started a month or two ago

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I think the constable program started a month or two ago

that's right. it's been years in the planning. sadly, i believe heightsfan lives in my neighborhood, proctor plaza/north norhill, which Karen never seemed to consider a viable area for the program even though i sent her a list of names of households willing to participate. my hope is that the patrol going up and down studewood will still help our little area. honestly, we seem to have less crime than heights proper anyway. i attribute it to smaller homes and less glitz :P

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Worth $250? Hell yeah. Worth 10x that, if you ask me. All you need is one incident to make their service priceless. I wish we had enough neighborhood buy-in around me to get one.

We live on Harvard and kicked in for the 250. On Sunday evening I drove over to pick up some takeout at Dry Creek. The constable was parked on Heights Blvd. near Grace Methodist. After picking up a couple of tasty burgers, I drove by the constable again, this time parked at 7th and Heights by the new bike trail. Yesterday evening I was driving by Reagan high on the way to Proctor Plaza Park -- there the constable was, parked on 13th by the new Reagan track.

I second Jesse's 'hell yeah'. While I'm certainly under no pollyanna-eque illusions that crime will magically disappear, it can't help but be a good deterrent.

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I got this email today, and am planning on signing up:

"The Houston Heights Association has worked diligently to keep our citizens aware of the Constable Patrol Program which is currently underway for the east side residents of Heights Boulevard. Citizens were informed that in order to have a successful program, we need a total of 250 paid households at the rate of $255 per household, per year for the full time service. The program began with a patrolling constable the end of May 2009. To date, 90 households are signed up and paid in full.

If you wish to sign up for this program, it is not too late and we need to know immediately. If you have signed up but for some reason have not received your invoice for payment, we need to know. The HHA is not managing this program however it is our goal to assist our Heights residents in every way possible. Please send an e-mail to info@houstonheights.org and your inquiry will receive a quick response. The HHA believes the constable patrol is a worthy project. When you sign up and pay your fee, you will receive the 24 hour constable dispatch number and your home will be patrolled by notifying the constable office when you leave town.

If you want to see this program continue, please let us hear from you.

Chris Silkwood

HHA President"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Can someone please explain how to recognize the Heights constable? Is there something about the car that identifies him or her? I'd like to introduce myself but don't know what distinguishes the constables from the Houston police on regular patrol.

Thanks.

Nothing special identifies the Constable contracted out to the Heights from other constables. I don't think that the HPD are contracted out, except those who work on their own time at parking and security work. Those guys cannot use cop cars.

Usually in my neighborhood you can recognize them because they are the same person every day.

Edited by gto250us
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what distinguishes the constables from the Houston police on regular patrol.

The Constables drive Dodges with "Harris Country Constable" in a black and yellow scheme. HPD drives Fords/Lincolns in a blue/red scheme with "Houston Police" on them...

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