2013-01-03 / Front Page

Outgoing constable ready for ‘home time’

By Terry Cannon

Constable Dennis Taylor is congratulated by Lindale High School Principal Casey Neal after Taylor learned there would be a scholarship in his name available for a LHS senior each year. Constable Dennis Taylor is congratulated by Lindale High School Principal Casey Neal after Taylor learned there would be a scholarship in his name available for a LHS senior each year. For the better part of the past three decades, Dennis Taylor has been a familiar figure in the Precinct 5 Constable’s office.

But now, after having been turned out by voters in the Republican primary election this past May in favor of Kenneth Bibby, Taylor’s new post will be his house where he plans to spend most of his time.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 40 years,’’ he said. “It’s time I stayed at home.’’

In 1981, Taylor became the first Precinct 5 constable for Smith County after serving as a county deputy for Sheriff J.B. Smith. In fact, Taylor was the first deputy Smith hired for his staff when he became sheriff.

When he became constable, Taylor recalled, his office was a tworoom affair just east of downtown Lindale. Two more moves later and he and Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace James Cowart occupied their present quarters.

Taylor said that technically, a constable’s job is just to serve papers for the JP’s office. However, he felt he could serve the county in a better capacity by expanding those duties.

“A constable’s job is what you make of it,’’ he said. “We served papers for the judge (Cowart) but we started working thefts, burglaries, drug seizures and arson cases.’’

In fact, working thefts and burglaries became his favorite part of the job.

“The most satisfying thing I was involved with over the years was clearing burglaries and thefts and getting citizens their property back,’’ Taylor said.

And as illegal drugs became woven into the fabric of today’s society, Taylor and his deputies were faced with yet another challenge.

“Society has changed so much over the past 30 years that law enforcement has had to change with it,’’ he said in reference to the amount of drug traffic in the area.

One particular drug arrest caught the attention of not just Lindale residents but most people across East Texas when Troy Glen Shelton, former owner of the Lindale Tire Shop, was arrested in late July, 2012 for transporting marijuana from California to sell in East Texas.

“That was some high grade stuff he was bringing in,’’ Taylor said. “We hit a good lick on that one. That shut down a lot of drugs that were coming into town.’’

According to Taylor’s estimates, the drugs seized (31 pounds of marijuana and an undetermined amount of methamphetamine) were worth approximately $200,000. Weapons and ammunition seized were worth another $25,000.

“I remember when we started going after drugs in the early 1980s and we’d be excited about getting a marijuana cigarette,’’ he said. “Things have changed so much now that that’s the least of what we see.’’

Deputies also seized drugs being transported on Interstate 20. The money taken in these drug busts turned out to be a savings for taxpayers since Taylor used the funds to buy vehicles for the constable’s office.

Over the past three decades, Taylor estimates his office has taken more than two tons of marijuana off the streets and somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 pounds of cocaine and meth.

A few months ago, he and his deputies were involved in an arrest unique to the county: busting a moonshiner and his still near New Chapel Hill.

“All the officers we talked to – at the local level and state level – hadn’t seen anyone in East Texas making moonshine,’’ he said.

One of Taylor’s passions is the Lindale Rodeo. He won’t be retiring from that, he said.

“I’ve been chairman of the Lindale Rodeo for the past 26 years,’’ he said. “It’s still the biggest and best rodeo around here.’’

And his influence has been recognized by citizens of Lindale, who got together and funded a scholarship in his name at Lindale High School.

“I’m so excited about that,’’ he said. “That was one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever had and I wanted to make sure everyone in Lindale knows how appreciative I am of what they’ve done for me. I’m very honored to have this named after me.’’

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