Loudspeakers were hanging from poles all around the

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Unformatted text preview: re a badge and a gun and whatever uniform he could put together, and if he could afford it, which he always managed, he put lights on his car and had the authority to pull over anyone at any time for any conceivable offense. No training was required. No education. No supervision from the county Sheriff or the city police chief, no one but the voters every four years. In theory he was a summons server, but once elected most constables couldn't resist the powerful urge to strap on a gun and look for folks to arrest. The more traffic tickets a constable wrote, the more money he earned. It was a part-time job with a nominal salary, but at least one of the five in each county tried to live off the position. This was the guy who caused the most trouble. Each district had an elected Justice of the Peace, a judicial officer with absolutely no legal training, in 1971 anyway. No education was required for the job. No experience. Just votes. The J.P. judged all the people the constable hauled in, and their relationship was cozy and suspicious. Out-of-state drivers who got nailed by a constable in Ford County were usually in for some abuse at the hands of the J.P. Each county had five supervisors, five little kings who held the real power. For their supporters they paved roads, fixed culverts, gave away gravel. For their enemies they did little. All county ordinances were enacted by the Board of Supervisors. Each county also had an elected sheriff, tax collector, tax assessor, chancery court clerk, and coroner. The rural counties shared a state senator and state representative. Other available jobs in 1971 were highway commissioner, public service commissioner, commissioner of agriculture, state treasurer, state auditor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and governor. I thought this was a ridiculous and cumbersome system until the candidates for these positions began buying ads in theTimes. A particularly bad constable over in the Fourth District (also known as "Beat Four") had eleven oppon...
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