What is RACS?
RACS is an acronym for Rice Area Constable Service. The RACS area includes the neighborhoods of Morningside Place and Southgate. This valuable service is available to our neighborhoods exclusively as a result of the voluntary contributions of the residents of Morningside Place and Southgate. This service has been a great asset to our area in responding quickly to dispatch calls regarding suspicious activity, house alarms, street patrol, issuing tickets and making arrests. This service is a supplement to the Houston Police Department (HPD). RACS establishes this service by means of a contract with the Harris County Commissioners Court for the services of ONE Deputy Constable at a current annual cost of over $77,000. This money covers 80% of their salaries and affords us 80% of their time.
Why does the Constable Patrol Program exist?
The members of the Civic Clubs have long felt a need for supplemental security. In 1988, we started out with one officer and over the years grew to having 4 officers on patrol. However, we were unable to sustain 4 deputies and gradually had to cut back to one. Although your tax dollars pay for HPD, the city budget is not large enough to include regular HPD street patrol, nor are there enough HPD officers to meet the demands of our city, the 4th largest in the US. The deputy constables provide street patrol responding immediately to RACS emergency calls, usually arriving on the scene before on-duty HPD officers.
What services area provided?
The Program offers members direct phone contact with Precinct 1 dispatch for quick response time to calls for help or reports of suspicious activities. Membership also allows the privilege of Vacation Watch Service and Special Watches for unusual circumstances, as well as Home Security Inspections. The neighborhood receives highly visible street patrolling and quick response time to calls for help from highly trained deputies. Deputy constables wear badges, carry guns and can make arrests and issue tickets. The contract services to members include:
- Street patrol during contracted period
- Vacation watch service
- Special watches for unusual circumstances
- Home security inspections
- Dispatch/response to calls
- Direct response to alarm system calls with no false-alarm fee
Who benefits from this program?
The entire neighborhood benefits from the street patrolling which serves to raise the level of security in our neighborhood. All services provided by the Constable Patrol – street patrolling, Special Watches, Vacation Watches, personal help, home security inspections, etc., are paid for by the residents who pay annual fee and become a member. Consequently, only members can call upon the deputy for services other than the street patrolling. The Harris County Treasurer sends RACS a bill each month without fail. If this bill is not paid, the deputy services are discontinued.
Residents that choose not to join or renew RACS membership are receiving benefits of street patrol while letting your neighbors pay.
Who can join RACS?
All homeowners and renters that reside in Morningside Place & Southgate are eligible to join RACS.
How much does it cost?
$330 for homes, $250 for seniors (65 and over), $175 for apartments/duplexes per year.
That’s just $0.82/day and for seniors $0.55/day! These dues pay for 80% of ONE deputy constable RACS has contracted at the annual cost of $77,400 plus administrative costs.
How do I join?
You can join online here.
What would it take to get 24 x 7 Deputy Constable patrol coverage?
24 x 7 coverage would require contracting 5 Deputy Constables. To provide this level of coverage would require very high RACS participation and/or an increase in annual dues.
Why don’t we have a Deputy Constable patrolling 7 days a week?
RACS participation is too low to provide for 2 Deputy Constables. Neighborhood participation rates would need to increase to above 60% for a 2nd Deputy Constable.
What happens when a dispatch call is made after our contracted patrol hours or on a day without coverage?
Dispatch will send an available unit from another contract. If none are available, then the dispatcher will have you call 911.
What is the standard response time of a constable when dispatched during our contracted patrol period?
Response times are usually a few minutes to 10 minutes, far faster than on-duty HPD officers (which could take 30 minutes to hours. After contracted hours – response time depends on the neighboring contracts and if they have an available deputy to dispatch.
What is the benefit of constable versus a private security patrol?
Our deputy is a certified law enforcement officer who wears a badge, carries a gun and has the ability to make arrests and issue tickets.
What is the Vacation Watch program?
The vacation watch program lets the deputy know you will be away. He will check on your house during that time, making sure doors and windows are secure. Our deputy while on duty only performs vacation watches. No neighboring contracted deputies can perform our watches. Members can request the form from director Marla Niksch via email to email@example.com. The form is a fillable pdf format. Members should fill it out, save it, then email back to RACS for processing. Please allow five days for the watch to be active.
Should RACS members have their alarm system call the Constable Dispatch?
Yes. It’s recommended to setup the Constable Dispatch number as the first call on your alarm system, during contracted hours a deputy constable could arrive within minutes which could be critical in catching a burglar.
What is the RACS dispatch number?
The dispatch number is provided only to dues paying members. Please request a sticker when you pay your dues or request directly from firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s recommended you put the dispatch number in your cell phone for quick access should you see something suspicious to report quickly.