Friday, September 6, 2013

County Judge Mary Horn sent a letter to Constable Precinct 4 Tim Burch on September 4 regarding his use of county vehicles to perform off duty jobs in other counties.

This letter is subject to open records laws and I made an open records request. The following is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Constable Burch:

Article III, 52(e) of the Texas Constitution prohibits a county from granting things of value for private use. Officers who perform off-duty work receive a private benefit. Thus, when a county patrol vehicle is used in the performance of off-duty work, it is put to a private use. Such private use is permissible so long as the predominant purpose of the work is to accomplish an authorized public purpose.

Reports have been received that you have been using your county patrol vehicle to perform off-duty work outside of Denton County. This letter is to inform you that I consider this to be a misuse of Denton County property.

The Attorney General has specifically held that county patrol vehicles may be used for off-duty work only if the predominant purpose is to conserve the peace within the county, the elected official retains control over the vehicles in a manner that ensures the peace will be conserved, and the county actually receives this public benefit. Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. No. GA-0480 (2006).

Off-duty work performed outside of Denton County does not conserve the peace within Denton County or serve any other legally authorized county purpose. Therefore, I consider your use of a county patrol vehicle for this purpose to be a misuse of county property for your own private benefit. I request that you discontinue this practice immediately, and inform your deputies that you lack the authority to grant them the use of their county vehicles while working off-duty in other counties.

In using county property for your sole private benefit, you place the taxpayers of Denton County at risk for personal loss. Please understand that any officer who engages in this practice could be held personally responsible.


Mary Horn
County Judge

This letter was written after a traffic accident Burch was involved in earlier this year that destroyed a county-owned patrol car. He was in Tarrant County working an off-duty job with TXDOT. So far the insurance company has not paid off on the car or the $9,000 worth of special police add-ons.
Burch told the commissioners court on Tuesday that an individual was donating a fully-police-equipped Tahoe to his department.

Burch has called this blog "Moments of Stupidity" and accused this writer of being a "creative journalist." This stuff is not my creativity at work, folks.

I will report further facts as I find them.



  1. Good for Mary Horn. Burch needs to be held accountable for his actions.
    So someone is donating a 40000-50000 Tahoe all decked out with police lights to the constables office? I think the first thing to do Donna is request to find out who donated it. As we all know, Sheriff Travis was accused of things that he clearly didn't do. It is obvious someone's on a witch hunt there. But I think the County and GOP needs to address the happenings of what is being done with Tim Burch. I wonder what Constable Burch has promised in return of such a hefty donation?

  2. You need to file two open records request: One for the Northgate Constructors timesheets, to see what day each of the deputies for our county were working down there. The other one for the gas log for the county to see if any of them filled up before and after that date at the county pumps. I am sure none of the ones from Constable 4 or 1 will have anything to worry about, as I am sure they are upstanding law enforcement officers. But on the other hand lets see if they were double dipping, using county vehicles for personal gain outside of the county. And using county gas when they are being paid at TXDoT wages, for personal gain as well. The officers I have seen while passing through that project are using their own personal vehicles, and then you have the cars marked Denton County as well??

  3. As we all know, Sheriff Travis was accused of things that he clearly didn't do. Concernedcitizen, you must actually be the Ranger who investigated this case, to know if he did it or not! If not, I will wait to see what the verdict says! Even his Chief had not so nice words to say about him in the affidavit. And he clearly could not keep his story straight! It changed with each person he told it to (I think they call that a CLUE). He even had Parkey recording him! If you had it out with the guy in the church lobby (great place to yell at someone) then why would you need to send the same person an email, at all????