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The man among the people

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“I just want to preface any interview with: I give credit to the Lord Jesus Christ for allowing me to be in this position to serve.  And I feel it is an honor and a privilege to serve the citizens of Denton County in the way that I serve.” So says Denton County Precinct 4 Constable Tim Burch.

Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Burch’s family moved to Euless, Texas before his first birthday. He finished his education there before moving to Roanoke and then settling in Double Oak. Constable Burch has an extensive background in sports; including minor league baseball, weight-lifting and bull-riding. “I also played some football and ran track. Believe it or not, I was a sprinter,” he said with a chuckle. “Some people say I have a different accent. I might have picked that up after high school when I joined with the Fellowship Christian Athletes, and we traveled to several states playing ball,” he said, adding, “I was also on the east coast quite a bit, so that may have added something to the accent mix.”

Burch’s law-enforcement career began with a five-year stint as a police officer in North Richland Hills. “It’s interesting that my boss at the time was Chief Andy Kancel, who is now the Chief of the Flower Mound PD,” he said. In 2001, he was hired as a Deputy, working under veteran Constable John Hatzenbuhler. “Through hard work and diligence I worked my way up through the ranks into the Chief Deputy position in the office. John was a very good mentor to me. I’m a hands-on type of manager. I don’t ask my deputies to do anything that I’m not doing.” He said he often works 16-hour days and the commissioner’s court has affectionately labeled him as “The man among the people, because I’m out there all the time.” In 2012, when Hatzenbuhler decided to retire, Burch ran for and was elected to his current position. “I always had a good work ethic, believing that, if I applied myself and worked hard, I could advance more quickly through the ranks.”  

Constables have Peace Officer status and similar duties, but mainly handle civil, rather than criminal, matters. Their job includes providing bailiffs for the courts within their respective precincts and serving processes issued from any court. “Statutorily, we are responsible to serve civil and criminal processes, which includes a number of things; not just someone going to court for a summons. There are probably 20 different documents that are included in the civil process; from eviction notices to traffic warrants and judgment decrees, including seizing, impounding and selling of real property as directed by law,” Burch said. Some constables limit themselves to the service of those legal documents, but others provide patrol and investigative services too. “I spend a lot of time patrolling the precinct and stopping to help residents wherever I can,” he said proudly. “I did the same thing as a deputy; that’s how I became so well-known in the area. I love my job and I love leaving people with a good image of my office. But, I always remember that I couldn’t achieve anything if I didn’t have the Lord in my life.”

Burch’s precinct covers almost 370 square miles and the population therein continues to grow rapidly. He has four deputies, one Chief Deputy and two office staff members. “I rotate my hours so that I always have somebody available. I’m the only Constable that remains available 24/7; that’s what I’m known for. If, for some reason, I’m not there, my Chief Deputy will fill in to make sure we have coverage on the streets.” The Commissioner’s Court decides on the budget requirements for the Constable’s office, as they do on every other county office. “When the new census comes out, my precinct numbers will be far more that the others. But, it’s not like we’re going to be provided more money for more officers. The county tries to keep it within about 120,000.  For example, Lantana was removed from my district and I was given a lot of the suburban Denton area.”  

Burch said the cost for each additional deputy would be about $140,000 per year. “The base salary is about $52,000, but when you add the insurance and other benefits it gets a lot more expensive.” He said his deputies will generally serve papers early in the morning out of courtesy to those being served, since residents might become inquisitive about seeing a constable in front of the house next door. “We’ll usually serve civil papers between 5 and 7 a.m., and when we explain why, people generally thank us for not causing suspicious alarm among their neighbors.”

Burch will be up for reelection in 2016, which might begin with a GOP Primary, if he has an opponent. Challengers can file an application in December 2015 for the March 2016 Primary. The Precinct 4 Constable says he plans to continue in office for four terms, a total of 16 years. He believes if he stays active, fiscally responsible and committed to his core values, his constituents will take notice. “I don’t aspire to be anything except the constable; this is where I would like to retire.”

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.

 

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