The general election in November will bring with it at least one guarantee. There will be a new constable for Precinct 4 in Bell County.
Five candidates — two Republicans and three Democrats — are vying for a seat that will leave one person standing in November.
Current incumbent Edd Melton III, a Republican, is not seeking re-election for an eighth term. He has served in the position since 1990, when he won a special election.
The two Republicans looking to keep the seat within their party are 57-year-old Michael Copeland and 62-year-old AJ Torres.
Copeland, who currently serves as a deputy constable in Precinct 4, has 35 years experience in law enforcement and has lived in the area for more than 30 years.
Copeland holds a Master Peace Officer license from the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement.
Prior to taking his current position, Copeland was a police chief of the CTC Police Department, a member of the Harker Heights Police Department and a patrol officer for the KISD Police Department.
Torres is a 38-year veteran of law enforcement, currently a sergeant supervisor in the Bell County Constable Office, a position he has held for around 1 ½ years.
In April 1982, Torres went to a 28-week police academy and was sponsored by the Austin Police Department.
He served full-time on the Austin SWAT team until 1992, when he moved back to the area and took a position in the Bell County Constable Office.
The three Democrats vying for the seat are Louie Minor, 40, Martha Dominguez, 45, and Calvin Brow, 60.
Minor is a local small-business owner with law enforcement experience, who once served in the Bell County Constable Office, Precinct 3, in Temple. Minor left the constable office when, as a member of the National Guard, he got orders to train for a deployment to Iraq in 2006.
Minor got out of the National Guard in 2013 as an infantry captain. Prior to separating from the Army, he began working with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., in 2012.
He moved to the Killeen area in 2014 and started his small business doing commercial projects. In January, he was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission in Killeen.
Minor said he would have challenged Melton this year, even if the incumbent had sought re-election.
Dominguez began her law enforcement career as a corrections officer in Taylor. She received her peace officer certification in 2008, graduating from the CTC Police Academy.
She was a reserve officer in Bell County Precinct 3 for a couple years. In 2012, she began her career at the Bell County Constable Office, Precinct 4.
During her time in the constable office, Dominguez has received mental health training and has talked to several residents with mental health issues.
Brow is a Florida native with more than 20 years experience in law enforcement. He began his law enforcement career in 1994 as a reserve officer with Bell County Constable office while still serving in the Army.
In 2000, Brow began a full-time position in the constable office. He said he retired from the Army on a Monday and started his full-time job the next day.
He has a Master Peace Officer license, an instructor’s license and a Civil Process Proficiency Certification. He has also completed 4,975 training hours.
A constable is a peace officer and is the chief process server of the precinct’s justice of the peace court, according to the Texas Association of Counties. Constables serve subpoenas to witnesses, act as bailiffs, execute judgments and serve papers. Additionally, they can perform patrol functions and help the Sheriff’s Department when asked.
The position comes with an annual salary of $63,115.
The primary election will be March 3, according to the Bell County election office. The winner of the Nov. 3 general election will begin the term on Jan. 1, 2021.
Question 1: What are your Top 3 issues related to the position, and why?
Brow: “If elected as Constable would be to reduce crime through community involvement and improve community relationships by building community partnership.”
Copeland: “A. Professional service to the community, not just special interests – the public deserves and expects this from its public servants. B. Ensure proper training and current education for my department — a well-trained department is better able to complete its mission and serve the community in both resolving civil and criminal matters. C. Providing ethical service with integrity and accountability for all my deputies — it is necessary to hold ourselves in this profession to a higher standard not just on duty but off duty as well, it is also what the citizens expect of us.”
Dominguez: “Process Service: Citizens pay for our service and all papers must be attempted/executed immediately. Evictions: With the growing number of citizens going thru these unfortunate circumstances, compassion must be part of the process. We can execute our orders and direct them to resources provided by the county or state, especially when it comes to the elderly and mentally challenged. We need to educate our community, especially the youth. We should use discretion regarding youth and enforce laws as needed as to not create further hardship on families.”
Minor: “Protecting the land, water and air are vital to a growing region. In support of our citizens and businesses, our office will be trained in environmental enforcement with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Our office will end low level arrest of marijuana (less than 4 ounces). This is the same policy of the Texas Department of Public Safety and this will be ours. This policy will help ease jail overcrowding in Bell County and allow adjudication in the court system. Finally, the public demands lower crime and human trafficking rates. We will take active roles in making our community safer.”
Torres: “A. Relationships- In order to maintain the respect and trust of the community, we must stress our ethics and values to each and every member of our law enforcement team and then serve our community accordingly. B. Communications- We must communicate well within our agency as well as communicate well across the different law enforcement agencies. C. Cooperation and collaboration- To be a productive and premier law enforcement agency you have to understand the “whole of community concept”. This concept entails the support from citizens of the community, as well as, the complete backing of other law enforcement agencies.”
Question 2: What makes you different from the other candidates?
Brow: “My experience over 24 years in law-enforcement in the civil process area/ with the same department as well as over 20 years in the military.”
Copeland: “With over 35 years as a Peace Officer, I have extensive experience in all aspects of Law Enforcement and have held positions as a patrol officer, an investigator, a supervisor, and a Police Chief. I have handled positions that included personnel management and supervision, budget management, public relations, and enforcement of both civil and criminal law. I’m well known by a vast number of peers in Bell County who know me by my actions to be a hard-working person who is ethical and fair in my dealings with the general public, and the law enforcement community.”
Dominguez: I am not the status quo of the current administration, nor a politician trying to make a name for myself. I am a modern day Law Enforcement Officer that works the street, and will continue to do so, earning my pay on a daily basis. Not by sitting behind a desk but by leading this department into a new era of a true public servant. I chose this profession to serve the public, not myself. I will always put the best interests of the citizens before my own. As well as assist all other agencies as needed or requested.
Minor: “Qualifications. I have a Master of Public Administration degree and a Bachelor and Associate degree in Criminal Justice. I am an Iraq War Veteran and was honorably discharged as an infantry captain from the Army. I then worked in Washington, D.C., with the Department of Homeland Security as an Incident Management officer. Finally, I am a Democrat. The Democratic Party is a welcoming party and we welcome Republicans who change their views. I do not believe it is appropriate for candidates to switch parties and immediately run for the democratic nomination on our ticket.”
Torres: “Selfless service to my country and my community. I was born in Texas. I grew up in Killeen, graduated from Killeen High. I am a Marine Veteran. I’m the ONLY candidate that was selected to attend a 28- week Police academy with over 2500 hours of training. (Austin Police Dept.). I’m well rounded in many areas of law enforcement to include Full-time SWAT officer, KISD Police Officer which gives me a direct tie to this community, I was a Deputy City Marshal for Killeen. I am a Sergeant Supervisor for Bell County Constable PCT 4 at this time.”
Question 3: What aspect(s) of the job appeals to you most, and why?
Brow: “Being able to help the people of Bell County providing effective service to all citizens through integrity respect and strong community partnership”
Copeland: “I like the daily interactions with the public and being out in the community. We perform many services for the community and make a difference. I look forward to leading this department and improving our ability to perform services for the public. I enjoy working with our Deputies and will lead by example. I’m a doer and look forward to getting the job done in a manner that reflects the highest level of service and will demand that from my staff.”
Dominguez: “Serving the community is the most appealing. For as peace officers we have a chance to make a difference by making positive contacts in the midst of doing our jobs. By giving hope to those that have lost it because of some mistakes they have made. By letting our youth know that we have all made mistakes. That is not what defines us. What defines every single one of us is what we learned and how we overcame those mistakes. Let’s learn to take the road less traveled instead of the well beaten path.”
Minor: “The most appealing aspect of the job is the opportunity to bring change. The majority of the people do not understand what the constable’s office function is. The constable’s office has been a quiet agency for thirty years. For this reason, I will implement a community outreach program. This program will be headed by community leaders that want to have a positive and engaging office. The program will seek to raise awareness and community engagement throughout the precinct. I look forward to earning your vote and serving as your Constable.”
Torres: “The position of Constable will permit me to make a positive difference in the lives of others, not only within law enforcement but also within our community. Together we will aim to help others move forward and possibly have a lasting impact on their lives for the better. This is the legacy I wish to develop within my law enforcement environment. It boils down to this, people will forget what you say, people will forget what you do, but people will never forget how you make them feel. It is my intent to make a difference!”