Incoming constable helps reunite family

Tim Burch was sworn in as Denton County Constable for Pct. 4 on Jan. 1, just after participating in what he describes as one of the most gratifying cases in his career in law enforcement.

Burch, who replaced former Constable John Hatzenbuhler, aided in a missing persons case that helped reunite a mother with her severely autistic son.

“We were contacted back in July of 2012 by a young lady out of El Paso, whose ex-husband had formerly worked for the Texas Criminal Justice Center there and had been brought up on some charges,” Burch said. “They were going to take his visitation rights away. He went to the residence of the child and his ex-wife and acted like he was going to take the child for a trip, but then left for two years.

“He would never allow the child to call home or work at any job where we could track him on a social security number…he was moving around from city to city, and when she found out where he might be staying, she would contact the local law enforcement agencies, and they were very little help.”

Burch said when he learned about the story he became determined to do what he could to help the mother and child to reunite.

“She contacted my office in July and informed me that he might be in my jurisdiction or general area,” Burch said. “What I did at that time was to initiate an investigation out of our office…and we basically covered 12 different possible known addresses where the father was believed to be staying.

“I would estimate that I myself worked 600 hours on this case. Approximately two weeks ago, we were contacted by one of our confidential informants, and we got the father and son.”

Once the son was in custody and safe, he was transported from Denton to Midland to meet up with his mother.

“We have photos of the reunion, and I have to say it is probably one of the most heartwarming events that we have ever been able to accomplish out of the office,” Burch said.

Constables are constitutionally authorized peace officers. They have the same arrest powers and duties as municipal police officers and sheriff’s deputies and have the added responsibility of executing civil notification for the courts, such as serving warrants.

Burch said he wants to make an impact in his role as constable in a way that shows he is truly concerned about the safety of those he serves.

“I hope to bring an awareness to all constable offices around the state, not just Denton County, that they can provide a lot of public service aside from their legislatively mandated duties,” Burch said. “In doing so, you are showing your constituents that you are going above and beyond what is required of you.”

Burch served as chief deputy under Constable Hatzenbuhler in Pct. 4, which covers southwest Denton County, for a number of years and said while he learned a lot from his predecessor it is time for him to establish his own reputation now.

“Constable Hatzenbuhler allowed me to have full control of the office for the last four years that he was there to get me acclimated to a smooth transition with the turnover of leadership,” Burch said.  “I was basically in charge of day-to-day operations.

“Constable Hatzenbuhler established a legacy in his own time. We’re in an ever-changing society, so now it is going to be completely different, and I will be establishing my own legacy.”

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