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Posted: 7/7/2002 12:16:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/7/2002 12:22:08 PM EDT by AR15fan]
Many times when you hear about a "police officer" being killed on duty it ends up being a "commissioner" "Counstable" "Justice of the Peace" or some other appointed/elected position. The "cop" holding the position has no formal LE, training and is basically a process server who does an occasional car stop. I can see the historical reason for having these positions. But I think they are currently outdated at best and dangerous at worst. We need: Highway Patrol / State police, self explanitory. Sheriff's Departments to maintain jails and patrol unicorporated areas. Municipal Police Departments, self explanitory. Marshalls Departments for the civil & crimianl courts, although the Sheriff's Departments could do this too. With all that, why are part time appointed constables, commissioners, ect still needed. Especially when they are killed on duty at a higher rate than professional cops. Darren Lunsford was an auto mechanic who appointed as town counstable via the good-ole- boy system. He drove a surplus police cruiser he bought with his own money. He had no formal training and had no business doing car stops to make drug arrests. Many of his arrest were thrown out during discovery motions because he didn't know a thing about search & seizure, because he had no training. That same lack of training eventually got him killed. We have all seen the video, but how many knew he was a part timer?
Link Posted: 7/7/2002 12:58:20 PM EDT
In Florida, we have been there since about 1972. No Justice of the Peace, Town Marshals, or Constables. All law enforcement personnel are regulated by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. There is a standard minimum for all academy's. All LEO personnel have a mandatory amount of training that is required every 4 years. (my agency out does the required minimum by at least a factor of 10) There is a required state test after the academy to become certified.
Link Posted: 7/8/2002 10:22:42 PM EDT
I can see where someone who lives in a highly populated jurisdiction could think this way. And I tend to agree....academy trained officers are generally better at their jobs. But what about the small areas that are vastly unpopulated? The area I live in is very rural and there is little industry in order to tax. This means that the county cannot afford to pay the salaries of very many officers. In fact, many counties in this area are covered by as few as two paid deputies! If it wasn't for constables, there would be far less police protection. Most of these constables are also not paid and are not required to attend any formal training. Yet these volunteer workers make up anywhere from 25%-50% of the county law enforcement personnel. It would be nice to have a large department of well paid deputies to cover the county, but that just isn't the case. Most of the deputies who are paid only stay in the area for a couple of years. The department pays for their training, then when their 2 year contract is up, they head for the larger towns and cities where they are paid much better. Then more rookies are hired to replace them. By the time most of these officers have gained enough experience to be really good at their jobs and learn the area well, they are gone and the process starts all over again. But the constables remain. They are either retired folks from other professions or a dedicated person who works at another job and also serves his community as a constable at the same time. These people are only doing it because they want to help keep their communities a safe place in order to live in and raise their families. They are not in it for money and plan to stay here, not leave. So with that said, I think these positions should remain intact until the smaller communities are able to gain the necessary funding to pay an appropriate number of police. The salaries should also be reasonably competetive in order to keep the large metro departments from luring them all away. When that happens, I too will be happy to see these positions eliminated. But until then, I would much rather have an untrained constable who has 10 years or more of experience coming to my aid than a well trained deputy who is now working 100 miles down the road. As this example illustrates, these officers are still VERY MUCH NEEDED in some areas. It may not be the best situation possible...but far better than the alternative.
Link Posted: 7/9/2002 3:05:32 AM EDT
Specifically addressing Constables in Texas (which Lunsford was)... Constable is an elected position and was included in the state constitution as a check and balance against the power of the Sheriff. A Texas Constable has the same authority and many of the same responsibilities as a Sheriff within the Constable's Precinct, a political subdivision of the county. The constable also has specifically enumerated authorities for serving civil process, enforcing court orders, and for truancy. Constables offices take on as much authority and responsibility as the Constable wants and their County Commissioners (the governing body of elected officials for a county) wants. Some Constable offices in Texas have hundreds of employees and even provide contract patrol services to unincorporated subdivisions, MUDs and other communities (particularly in Harris County, near Houston). Some Constable's offices are a joke. Texas does make it mandatory that all elected Peace Officers meet the same training requirements as appointed Police Officers and Deputies, I think within six months or a year of taking office. I think having these "civil" Peace Officers around can be a good thing. They can take a lot of the work load from Patrol Officers by handling the more arcane civil law enforcement stuff that can really be time-consuming. Around here they also handle mental health calls. Because of that, we include them in much of our tactical training, which is good for everyone involved. Part of the answer is bringing these guys "on-board" and including them in your agency's training and planning. They can help you out, and at the same time, you can make sure that their training standards are up to speed.
Link Posted: 7/9/2002 6:51:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/9/2002 7:12:54 AM EDT by trippletap]
....
With all that, why are part time appointed constables, commissioners, ect still needed. Especially when they are killed on duty at a higher rate than professional cops. Darren Lunsford was an auto mechanic who appointed as town counstable via the good-ole- boy system. He drove a surplus police cruiser he bought with his own money. He had no formal training and had no business doing car stops to make drug arrests. Many of his arrest were thrown out during discovery motions because he didn't know a thing about search & seizure, because he had no training. That same lack of training eventually got him killed. We have all seen the video, but how many knew he was a part timer?
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I don't know how much(or little)training Lunsford had, or whether he worked full or part time, but I think it was his mindset more than anything else that got him in trouble. He is the first police officer whose murder was documented on video. Lunsford had a good reputation for his ability at intercepting drug runners. This was aparently why he made the stop. Lunsford, however, was also well known for his insistence on working alone. He rarely called for back up. He was a big man, well over six feet, and thought his size was an advantage. However, in this case, his assailants tackled him, one high, one low, put him on the ground and shot him with his own weapon. On the video, not 30 seconds before the scumbags attacked him, you can see a cruiser slowly drive by without stopping. You can still see the cruiser in the distance as Lunsford fights for his life. Full-time, part-time.....it doesn't really matter. It's the training and the mindset that matters. A part-time LEO should be required to maintain the same training/qualifications as a full-timer.
Link Posted: 7/9/2002 9:14:06 PM EDT
While I’ll never question the value of training, I think part of the problem these guys have is that they tend to be out by themselves. LE work, IMHO, becomes dramatically more dangerous when a partner or quick backup is not available. Tripletap’s post pretty much covers the particulars – and real problem – with Constable Lunsford. My recollection is that Lunsford owned either a dealership or a car repair shop that, ironically, was very nearly across the road from where he made the stop. It’s been suggested that being in a very familiar area may have made him especially careless. To elaborate a little on Tripletap’s post, the Deputy Sheriff that passed Lunsford stated that when he saw it was Lunsford, he didn’t stop since he knew Lunsford would not welcome his presence. If the Deputy had stopped, this incident almost certainly wouldn’t have occurred. As it was, the Deputy went down the road a short ways, turned around, and returned to find Lunsford dead alongside the road. Incidentally, Lunsford’s family agreed to the release of the video in hopes that other LEO’s could learn from Lunsford’s mistakes – a very generous act considering how troubling this video must have been for them.
Link Posted: 7/10/2002 8:14:11 AM EDT
Originally Posted By 199: While I’ll never question the value of training, I think part of the problem these guys have is that they tend to be out by themselves. LE work, IMHO, becomes dramatically more dangerous when a partner or quick backup is not available. Tripletap’s post pretty much covers the particulars – and real problem – with Constable Lunsford. My recollection is that Lunsford owned either a dealership or a car repair shop that, ironically, was very nearly across the road from where he made the stop. It’s been suggested that being in a very familiar area may have made him especially careless. To elaborate a little on Tripletap’s post, the Deputy Sheriff that passed Lunsford stated that when he saw it was Lunsford, he didn’t stop since he knew Lunsford would not welcome his presence. If the Deputy had stopped, this incident almost certainly wouldn’t have occurred. As it was, the Deputy went down the road a short ways, turned around, and returned to find Lunsford dead alongside the road. Incidentally, Lunsford’s family agreed to the release of the video in hopes that other LEO’s could learn from Lunsford’s mistakes – a very generous act considering how troubling this video must have been for them.
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I don't think tat just because someone is not full-time they shouldn't be allowed to work alone. I training is the key to being qualified to work solo. I work part-time for a city PD. I had to complete the same 640 hour academy as the full-time officers. I had to complete the same 450 hour FTO program as the full-time officers. I patrol the city by myself and am dispatched just like any other officer. I have to maintain the same firearms/DT qualifications and the same in-service training as the full-time officers. Any department that requires less training/qualifications for their part-time officers than their full-time officers is asking for trouble. In Lunsfords case, I think his attitude is what mostly got him into trouble, although training might have helped him realize how dangerous his attitude was. About two weeks after he was murdered, another Texas officer (can't remember his name), who had seen the video, was on an almost identical stop. The 3 or 4 subjects he had stopped tried to kil him, but he was ready and instead, killed a couple of them. He specifically mentioned the Lunsford video and how it helped him be prepared for the situation.
Link Posted: 7/10/2002 2:24:55 PM EDT
Originally Posted By trippletap: ... I don't think tat just because someone is not full-time they shouldn't be allowed to work alone. ...
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Agreed. My point was that working alone, and without a quick backup, is especially dangerous work for everyone. For the same reason, I feel it’s a risky proposition for an off-duty officer to get involved in something (no back up, no radio, no body armor, no uniform, probably a smaller handgun, and the risk of being accidentally shot by responding officers). Granted, an off-duty officer can’t stand by and allow a serious crime – especially one of violence – take place; I’m just saying that it’s dangerous!
Link Posted: 7/12/2002 1:43:08 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 199:
Originally Posted By trippletap: ... I don't think tat just because someone is not full-time they shouldn't be allowed to work alone. ...
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Agreed. My point was that working alone, and without a quick backup, is especially dangerous work for everyone. For the same reason, I feel it’s a risky proposition for an off-duty officer to get involved in something (no back up, no radio, no body armor, no uniform, probably a smaller handgun, and the risk of being accidentally shot by responding officers). Granted, an off-duty officer can’t stand by and allow a serious crime – especially one of violence – take place; I’m just saying that it’s dangerous!
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I'm with ya on that. I had to do a hasty felony stop recently. I wasn't able to position my vehicle in the best way, and the subject, who was a known cop fighter and supposedly armed, started to get out of his car as I was putting it into park. I made him stay in his car at gunpoint while waiting for backup. They were at my location in less than two (very tense) minutes. If I worked for the county, I would have been lucky to have backup in 30 minutes. My hat is off to those LEO's who work with little or no backup. When I carry off duty, I also carry a cell phone and cuffs.....and practice avoidance as much as I can.
Link Posted: 7/16/2002 5:11:36 PM EDT
Originally Posted By trippletap: ....
With all that, why are part time appointed constables, commissioners, ect still needed. Especially when they are killed on duty at a higher rate than professional cops. Darren Lunsford was an auto mechanic who appointed as town counstable via the good-ole- boy system. He drove a surplus police cruiser he bought with his own money. He had no formal training and had no business doing car stops to make drug arrests. Many of his arrest were thrown out during discovery motions because he didn't know a thing about search & seizure, because he had no training. That same lack of training eventually got him killed. We have all seen the video, but how many knew he was a part timer?
View Quote
I don't know how much(or little)training Lunsford had, or whether he worked full or part time, but I think it was his mindset more than anything else that got him in trouble. He is the first police officer whose murder was documented on video. Lunsford had a good reputation for his ability at intercepting drug runners. This was aparently why he made the stop. Lunsford, however, was also well known for his insistence on working alone. He rarely called for back up. He was a big man, well over six feet, and thought his size was an advantage. However, in this case, his assailants tackled him, one high, one low, put him on the ground and shot him with his own weapon. On the video, not 30 seconds before the scumbags attacked him, you can see a cruiser slowly drive by without stopping. You can still see the cruiser in the distance as Lunsford fights for his life. Full-time, part-time.....it doesn't really matter. It's the training and the mindset that matters. A part-time LEO should be required to maintain the same training/qualifications as a full-timer.
View Quote
I had heard after review of the tape that the big issue was that the Constable did not want to share any sized assets from the drug bust hence he refused back up I don't know how true this is just heard it at a training seminar. Again I don't know , just was told this by the instructer, and I did not get into a verfify this type of thing with him.
Link Posted: 7/16/2002 9:42:56 PM EDT
I grew up in Houston and went through the academy in Montgomery County just to the north. The Lunsford video was used in our training for a multiple training aide. Lunsford's mistakes were used as an example of complaicency. He allowed them to get out of the vehicle, he allowed them to flank him, he also had no skills in survival spanish. The front subject says something to the effect of "I'll go high, you go low" just before the attack. The two hispanics were significantly smaller so it was also a good example of never underestimating the power and will of an opponent regardless of size. Similar in fact to the Trooper Cotes(sp?) video from North Carolina. If you haven't seen it, get it. It is most chilling. As far as Constables go, most of the ones I worked with were trained in the police academys and were using the Deputy Constable job as an experience builder. They were either very good officers (most of the ones in the Houston area are) or they were worthless, it depended on their attitude. One thing they all did in the Harris County area was provide much needed man-power and certainly reduced the response time for a back-up unit for the Harris County Deputies in the more rural areas.
Link Posted: 7/22/2002 1:07:36 PM EDT
Hey, CMOTH, When did you attend Mongomery County SO Academy? SHSU class of 95, and I am a proud graduate of MCSO class 96-1. I went on to join the FEDs (INS), and I can say without ANY hesitation that the MCSO training was far better than the INS academy at FLETC. The FEDs were simply going through the motions and did not seem into really teaching us, so much as moving us on to the next class. It was a real let down. MCSO was all about us learning to do our job and do it well. Lots of hands on, GOOD training. That said, sometimes you do have to start off as a volunteer or reserve officer just to get your foot in the door. God knows it helped me. cmoth, what is your real name and class#?
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