The candidates for Ellis County Constable Pct. 3 include Republican Michael McCorkle and Democrats Curtis Polk Jr and Henry Curry. Curry did not respond to the Daily Light questionnaire.
1. What responsibilities of this office would you find most difficult and why?
Curtis Polk Jr: This is a difficult question to answer without having actually walked a mile in those shoes. I am not perfect and do not claim to have all the answers... but I believe I have a solid understanding of what would be required of me if elected and am completely willing to listen, learn and then seek out solutions for difficult situations as they present themselves. This willingness, combined with my desire to seek out justice will enable me to successfully overcome any difficulties I encounter.
Michael McCorkle: The facilitation of evictions and writs is one of the most challenging parts of being Constable.
First, I recognize how difficult it can be to separate people from their property during some of their roughest days. I would question the heart of any man who was unmoved by such a task. The empathetic response applies for all parties involved in the civil process. It is difficult to ease the burden placed on the shoulders of a landlord and tenant; however, I am committed to providing timely service and quality service for everyone. For those that are dependent on our services, I understand the impact it has on their lives. That is why we are continually evaluating and improving our capacity to do better.
2. What law enforcement experience and training qualify you for this position?
Curtis Polk Jr: I have several years of experience working with Ellis County Sheriffs Office and with the Waxahachie Independent School District.
While working for the Sheriff’s Office, I was able to gain insight into how to enforce law as well as policy in a jail setting. For those who have not had the opportunity to work in this type of environment, you learn very quickly to be firm and fair while always looking for a silver lining. This has to be done with the understanding that even when a perfect solution may not be self-evident, a positive outcome can normally be obtained if you have compassion and empathy.
I am currently employed as a Security Officer with the Waxahachie ISD. In this capacity, I get to work hand-in-hand with the youth from our community, administrators, staff members, parents and the general public. I believe our children are our future and I take pride in protecting them.
I am currently attending the Peace Officer Academy at the Waxahachie Campus of Navarro College and the instruction I am receiving there will enable me to continue serving my community in a new capacity.
Michael McCorkle: I began my career in law enforcement while serving in the United States Air National Guard, where I served during Operation Enduring Freedom. In response to the 09/11 terrorist attacks, I was tasked with dignitary security and security of Air Force One. My civilian law enforcement career began in 2000 with the Cedar Hill Police Department. During my tenure, I worked in patrol, community services, bicycle patrol, and the canine unit.
I began my leadership career while serving as a supervisor in Patrol with the City of Cedar Hill and graduated in 2010 from the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration. I began working at the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office in 2011 where I worked as a canine handler and supervisor.
At the Sheriff's Office, my leadership role involved budgeting, scheduling, public demonstrations, setting up training, and responding to various calls for service. In 2013 I received my Master Peace Officer certification and accumulated over 2700 training hours. I attended Tarleton State University and completed a Bachelors of Applied Arts and Sciences in Criminal Justice Administration.
3. If the courtroom gets out of order, how comfortable would you be controlling the room as bailiff?
Curtis Polk Jr: My comfort level is secondary to my sense of duty. If disruptive circumstances present themselves in a court setting, my first priority will be the personal safety of those present followed by maintaining security and therefore integrity of the courtroom. I believe that an officer can utilize a strong command presence to influence the vast majority of individuals to maintain order. However , when an individual(s) does not respond to reasonable requests, I believe that the appropriate response is to separate those individuals and take appropriate enforcement actions.
Michael McCorkle: I would be comfortable handling whatever situation developed in our courtroom. My response to de-escalate the situation and act accordingly is based on 17 years of training and experience.
Throughout my law enforcement career, I have responded and controlled situations that were extremely dangerous, stressful, and rapidly evolving.
We will create an environment that deters people from disrupting the court and work to make our judge, co-workers, and visitors feel safe. Shortly after being appointed, the Deputy Constable and I both attended and received certifications in courthouse security. The training we received has better prepared us to prevent and respond to disruptions occurring in judicial settings.
4. How do you plan to serve the civil and criminal court dockets diligently while balancing the other tasks of a constable?
Curtis Polk Jr: Time management is equally as important as a persons skills and abilities. With the proper allocation of time and resources, practically any task is possible. When balancing the responsibilities of courts, criminal matters and other duties, prioritizing becomes paramount as well as being able to delegate tasks to others who are capable of assisting in the completion of tasks.
Michael McCorkle: We have budgeted two full-time positions (Constable and Deputy Constable) and are authorized reserve police officers. It is a balance which requires that I am organized and prioritize our schedules, so that our role of securing the court and serving civil process is achieved. I will continue to work to improve methods and relationships in and out of the courtroom which directly affect the efficiency of our office.
In fact, as we move forward into the new age of technology, we will explore new concepts to improve service and communication. As these initiatives take place, we would expect our role to broaden in other areas of our community.
5. How do you plan to answer difficult complaints from citizens in a professional manner?
Curtis Polk Jr: Citizen complaints are often resolved with honest and open communication. When a complaint cannot be resolved by something as simple as an explanation, it needs to be handled with honesty and transparency. Mistakes are often unavoidable in life because we are not perfect but accountability needs to occur in order for us to be able to move past those circumstances and continue moving forward.
Michael McCorkle: A citizen complaining about the inappropriate conduct of a department member is one form of a "citizen complaint." The other type of citizen complaint occurs when they want to report a problem or criminal offense happening in their community. Both forms of complaints require the attention of law enforcement and are to be handled professionally.
I will ensure people have the opportunity to be heard and their complaint investigated thoroughly. In the event someone would like to complain about an employee acting inappropriate, our office will implement policies that outline the complaint process and provide information online. Some complaints may reveal the need for training, policy revisions, or discipline.