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Constable ready for disappearing act

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After more than 30 years in law enforcement that began in inner city Detroit in the 1960’s, Denton County Constable – and part-time magician – John Hatzenbuhler is finally calling it quits.

Hatzenbuhler’s career has taken many interesting twists and turns over the years, and after 24 years in his current position in Precinct 4, the Double Oak resident said it has been a privilege to serve the people of southern Denton County.

“It has been rewarding,” Hatzenbuhler said. “I have been here a long time, and I have been honored to serve the people here. I have had a lot of support, and there have been a lot of kudos, too.”

Constables are constitutionally authorized peace officers elected by precinct. They perform patrol functions, make criminal investigations and serve as officers of the Justice of the Peace courts.

Hatzenbuhler started out working downtown Detroit, and actually served during the infamous 1968 riots in the Midwestern city.

He then went to Fort Lauderdale, back to Detroit, and then on to Kansas, where he and his wife opened a restaurant and he ran for Sheriff, where he eventually lost.

Hatzenbuhler then went to work for an oil company that wanted him to move to Texas, and in 1988 assumed his current role of Denton County Constable.

“I volunteered for the Marshall’s department here in Double Oak years ago,” Hatzenbuhler said. “The Marshall then left, and they asked if I would take his job…then I heard about the Constable’s position becoming open and thought, ‘well, I think I’ll run for that.’”

Hatzenbuhler received numerous commendations over the years, including the prestigious Daily Point of Light Award from President George H. W. Bush. 

He has also received commendations from Mayor Annette Strauss of Dallas, the Home Town Hero Award from the Fox Television Network, the Jefferson Award presented by the American Institute for Public Service, which includes a minted brass medallion signed by Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and commendations from Congressman Dick Armey, Texas Governor Ann Richards, and several others.

Hatzenbuhler said when he reflects on his career in law enforcement, however, it is his work with young people that makes him the most proud.

“I did a little magic before, and I wanted to have an anti-drug program in the schools,” Hatzenbuhler said. “Me and a deputy of mine put together a program called “Smiling Mugs, No Drugs,” that I started doing at local schools.

“From that, I have talked to over 350 thousand kids, and I have done programs all over the United States and the world.”

Hatzenbuhler even performed magic shows for natives along the Amazon River in Brazil.

In retirement, Hatzenbuhler said he plans to do some fishing and resume his magician’s work, and said he has also taken up flying radio control model airplanes.

Hatzenbuhler, whose official last day is Dec. 31, said he would like to be remembered for his dedication and commitment to the community.

“I would like people to remember the service that I’ve given them. We used to give kids posters in the anti-drug programs we did, and I have had many people tell me that those posters are still on their refrigerators. That means a lot to me.”

A retirement party will be held at the Circle R Ranch in Flower Mound at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 to which Hatzenbuhler said “everyone is invited.”

Reservations need to be made by Oct. 25 by contacting Hatzenbuhler at tophatz@tx.rr.com.

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