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KCBD INVESTIGATES: Sheriff asks Constable to stay out of police chases

KCBD INVESTIGATES: Sheriff asks Constable to stay out of police chases
Published: Oct. 29, 2014 at 11:03 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2014 at 12:17 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock County Constable for Precinct 2, Joe Pinson, has been warned to stay out of future car chases involving the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office.

The notice follows an accident in July that injured a sheriff's deputy.

Sheriff Kelly Rowe sent the warning to the constable this month.

Pinson's normal duties involve working closely with the courts, focusing on truancy cases, serving papers and subpoenas, and serving as bailiff.

But records obtained by KCBD show he's gone beyond those duties, involving himself in two high speed chases, prompting a letter from Sheriff Kelly Rowe, concerned that the constable is putting property at risk and lives in danger.

On Sept. 18, 2012, Constable Pinson saw a motorcycle speed past him on Loop 289 and gave chase, a chase that ended with a crash that totaled his county-issued Tahoe.

On July 31, 2014 the constable chose to join a chase where sheriff's deputies were pursuing a car.

Pinson's speeds reached more than 100 miles per hour and led him to turn into one-way traffic when he overran the chase. That chase came to an end when Pinson ran into the back of a deputy's Tahoe.

In total, he caused more than $2,500 in damages to the county vehicles and injured a sheriff's deputy.

Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe has had enough, and he is putting Constable Pinson on notice.

KCBD obtained a letter dated Oct. 8, 2014, where Sheriff Rowe chastises Constable Pinson for going beyond the scope of his job.

Although the constable is a peace officer and has the right to do this, it's the result the sheriff is concerned about.

"After reviewing everything that took place, dash cam videos and those types of things, it raised a number of concerns and I felt it necessary to indicate to the constable that from this point forward he need not engage into those pursuits," Sheriff Rowe said.

In the letter, Sheriff Rowe says,

"Vehicle pursuits are a high-risk endeavor due to the public safety risks that are always present when they occur.

"This occurred in a vehicle that I would doubt meets standards for a police pursuit rating. As a result of the accident, one of my deputies was injured, and given the circumstances, I find this completely unacceptable.

"I certainly recognize your status as a Texas Peace Officer, but also submit to you that our requirements to enforce the law do have limits, and that we should never consciously jeopardize the public and their safety to achieve that all or nothing conclusion."

In a statement given to KCBD on Oct. 24, Constable Pinson seemed to deny the sheriff's request, saying, "As long as the laws of the State of Texas give provision for me to hold the position and the statutes give me authority as a Peace Officer, I will continue as I have been doing, in my duties as a Constable of Precinct II in Lubbock County."

PDF: Sheriff Kelly Rowe's letter to Constable Pinson 10/8

PDF: Constable Pinson's response to KCBD 10/24

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