Ted Heap was kind enough to agree to be interviewed regarding his race for reelection as Constable for Precinct Five. He was initially elected in 2016, and is one of the rare Republicans up for reelection. The success he has had in his first term supports his reelection. While the interview cannot cover all aspects of his term in office he presented as exceptionally intelligent and well versed in policy and how his office can best serve the public. He also came across as humble and having a servant’s heart noting at one point that the position is one of service and that a good law enforcement officer is a true public servant. This interview focused on what the role of the Constable’s office is, and how the office has been able to successfully serve the public.
Precinct 5 is an unusual precinct in that it is extremely populated, and is a near even mix of city and county areas. Although the county is broken up into 8 different Constable areas precinct five has a whopping 1.2 million people in the precinct. This is in a county where the population estimated at 4.7 million by the Census Bureau, meaning this office handles approximately 25% of the county population. Despite this, the average response time for a non-emergency call to the Constable’s office is 3 minutes 30 seconds, and the average response time for an emergency call is 2 minutes 50 seconds.
The constables are the primary agency to serve process in litigation, and to execute writs. He noted the Constable’s office was originally legislatively enacted in the 1800s to, “keep the peace and squelch riots.” In modern times the city is the primary law enforcement responsibility within their jurisdiction, and the Sherriff’s office is the primary responsibility in unincorporated areas leaving the Constable’s office as a supporting law enforcement agency, and they respond to approximately a quarter million service calls in the City of Houston and an additional quarter million service calls in unincorporated Harris County each year.
The Constable’s office is a legislative creation, but as with all county agency’s is at the whims of Commissioner’s Court for their budget. When the Commissioner’s Court allocates the budgeted amount, the Constable is free to use it at their discretion. This obviously is an area of concern with Commissioner Adrian Garcia proposing to eliminate the Constable contract program. Heap noted that the contract for the Constable program is the exact same, to the penny, as the Harris County Sherriff’s Office contract program, and the same contracts are entered into with the County Attorney office. Eliminating the program would only serve to decrease the law enforcement services available since the Sherriff’s office has primary law enforcement responsibility in the unincorporated areas of the county and the Constable’s office serves in a secondary roll and therefore has a greater ability and neighborhood connection already established.
Cooperation with other law enforcement agencies is important to Constable Heap. His office reports statistics to both the city and the county, and he noted cooperation is high and they can access city information and exchange intelligence with Houston Police Department. He also indicated this level of cooperation and technology sharing is new, having only started 3-4 years ago, and that more progress needs to be made in this area.
Constable Heap has made community relations a priority with his office. He stated, “We don’t answer a call and say show me your voter registration card. We help everyone without consideration of their background and status.” To further this goal, he has created a community outreach division, citizens police academy, teen police academy in Spring Branch and Katy ISD, and created a Hispanic, African American, Muslim, and Asian community liaison. He also expressed support for Councilman Edward Pollard’s creation of the District J patrol noting that it fills in a gap in enforcement of city ordinances since his office does not have authority to enforce the ordinances.
He believes that crime deterrence takes many things, but education, relationships, visibility, and quick response times are important. The quick response times noted above allow the officer to secure a scene and preserve evidence and catch more suspects. To increase visibility, he has all his investigators conduct investigations in uniform and in marked patrol cars. His office will investigate property crime the city and county agencies do not or cannot investigate, and he has instructed his investigators to follow up with the victim on every case to see if they have more evidence or information than what was originally discovered. Access and cooperation are important also. He added a victim’s assistance office to the west side of Houston to make the office more accessible to other areas of the precinct. He is working with the Mexican Consulate regarding their plans to move into Precinct Five.
All his efforts are having success. His office just busted a three-year long theft ring where individuals were walking into Home Depot stores filling shopping carts, and walking out without payment. In the bust they were able to recover $140,000 worth of merchandise and an additional $40,000 in cash. This isn’t just a single example, when I told him of stores in Sharpstown where similar activity was occurring, he gave me the name of a specific person in his office to contact and asked me to pass on the information to the stores.
Although it doesn’t precisely fit in anywhere else in the article it’s noteworthy that his precinct has no fleet debt.
Constable Heap has very quietly made remarkable strides for Precinct 5. Whether it’s community relationship efforts, involvement with high risk students, breaking down technology sharing barriers with other law enforcement agencies, or the quick response times leading to criminal apprehension he has made remarkable strides for the precinct in his first term in office. We are all better off for his dedication, and based on the merits of his performance he deserves another term in office. He has the following endorsements that are important for law enforcement related races:
- Houston Police Officers Union (HPOU)
- Harris County Deputies Organization
- Harris County Deputy Constables Association
- National Constables and Marshals Association
- Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers (OSSO)
- Mexican American Sheriff’s Organization (MASO)
- Houston Police Retired Officers Association
- Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT)
- Mexican American Bar Association of Houston (MABAH)
- The Blues Police Magazine
- Texas Humane Legislation Network