As a candidate for Bell County for Constable Precinct 4, which covers the Killeen area, Republican Michael Copeland brings more than 35 years of law enforcement experience to the race.
“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,” Copeland said by email.
Copeland’s opponent in the position is Democrat Martha Dominguez, also currently employed by Precinct 4. The winner of the Nov. 3 election will go on to succeed longtime Constable Edd Melton, a Republican.
Copeland, 58, and a resident of Harker Heights, said he wants to take an active approach to the position.
“As Constable I intend to be a ‘hands on’ public servant leading by example, actively working with my deputies and the public,” Copeland said. “I will bring transparency to the department by being available to the public in a full-time capacity in order to deal with their concerns in a timely fashion as they interact with our agency. We perform many services for the community, and we make a difference.”
Copeland has held a variety of positions and earned a variety of degrees. These include a Master Peace Officer License and Instructors License from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and multiple associate degrees. Positions he has held include police chief, a patrol sergeant, a community services officer, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) officer, crime scene technician and constable field deputy.
“I have handled positions that included personnel management and supervision, budget management, public relations, and enforcement of both civil and criminal law,” he said. “I have investigated or assisted in the investigation of misdemeanor and felony cases from their onset until completion to include testifying in court.”
As Copeland describes it, the constable office is the chief process server of the justice courts, and is also required to provide deputies to act as bailiffs for the Justice Courts.
“My plans for the improvement of the office include ensuring updated training for the staff in all aspects of civil process and to have supervisors assist with the processing and serving of court related paperwork so that no deputy or area within the precinct is overwhelmed,” Copeland said about his hopes for changes or revisions to the office. “As a small department we are somewhat limited in our resources and personnel so we must focus primarily on conducting civil process but as certified peace officers we hope to assist other local agencies as needed in a professional manner. I would enhance our working relationships with local law enforcement agencies and try to coordinate training with them since we interact on a daily basis.
“Having good interactions between agencies with improved agency communications would be a good starting point.”
Dominguez, 45, has been employed by Precinct 4 for eight years, beginning as a clerk and spending the last seven years as a deputy constable, with the current rank of sergeant. A Killeen resident since 1978, she currently resides in the Trimmier Estates area.
Her approach: Lead from the front and not from the desk.
“I have while at this office worked more writs than most Constables see in their entire careers in other counties,” she said. “These writs include writs of possession, attachment, garnishment, Habeas Corpus, sequestration, execution, restoration, and re-entry. I am currently a sergeant with the department and can fill in anywhere from clerical duties to road deputy. As a department head I feel it necessary to know every job in the department so that you can step in at anytime.”
Dominguez hopes to bring transparency, accountability, community involvement, and modern day policing to the constable’s office.
“Just these combined will ensure equal and fair treatment of all citizens,” Dominguez said by email. “Every person we come into contact with, especially our youth, deserve a positive police contact to the best that the current situation allows. As a department head it is your responsibility to make sure your employees have the training necessary to do their job to the best of their ability. That is why I will make training a must especially in the mental health aspect.”
With respect to mental health patients, Dominguez said having adequate training will empower employees to make better decisions when handling situations,
“My goal is to have every deputy go thru mental health training so that we can take (when necessary) our patients to an institution for assistance,” she said, adding that she has, in her current position, already made a change as to how training is authorized. “The best thing any employer can do is to train their staff so well that anyone can do everyone’s job! Another change I will make is in community outreach. I believe our citizens need to be able to express their concerns, and if this is better done in an environment they are comfortable with then I would like to bring the constables office to them.
“Not everything needs to be handled in the office, hence I will continue with my daily duties and be available for everyone. Taxpayers will get what they are paying for — a working constable that will treat everyone respectfully and equally.”