Election 2018

Incumbent Tim Burch will soon defend his elected position of constable over Denton County’s Precinct 4 against Danny Fletcher, a sergeant with the Denton Police Department.

With no Democrats in the race, the race will be decided following the primary vote on March 3. That means only those voting in the Republican primary will have a say in the head of the Precinct 4 constable’s office.

Burch has come under fire in years past for his relationship with Barry Minoff, his former chief of staff. Minoff has been under investigation for allegedly using more than $300,000 from a North Texas nonprofit while gambling in Las Vegas. Minoff’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 28. Despite criticism from county commissioners, Burch kept Minoff on paid administrative leave until commissioners defunded Minoff’s position.

Burch has long maintained he had no role in the misuse of funds. He also has defended his decision to not fire Minoff as the right thing to do considering the circumstances.

When contacted by phone this past week, Burch said he serves as constable “through the wondrous grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and his forgiveness.”

Responding to his relationship with Minoff, he said he immediately placed his former employee on leave when allegations came to light.

“The internal affairs investigation remained open and was never actually closed because nobody would provide anything whatsoever to substantiate his guilt or innocence,” Burch said. “So if I would have terminated him at the request of Denton County, I would have set myself and the county up for extreme litigation, and I was not about to do that.”

Fletcher responded broadly when asked about the incidents involving Burch and Minoff, saying it’s important for elected officials — especially law enforcement — to behave in a way that will not draw into question their decision-making or integrity.

He also said public trust is the most fragile thing law enforcement officials have, “and once it’s broken, it’s very difficult to ever repair.”

The nonprofit Minoff allegedly misused funds from, North Texas Justices of the Peace and Constables Association, was led in part by both he and Burch.

The pair also ran a company together called 5-04U. The organization worked to set law enforcement officers up with extra work outside their normal duties. Former County Judge Mary Horn admonished Burch in 2013 for repeatedly using his county vehicle to perform off-duty work.

Despite the age difference, both men have roughly the same amount of time in law enforcement. Before he began his training as a police officer, Burch said he worked as an aircraft mechanic until 1995.

Compared with other races, these constable candidates have relatively small pots of money to play with. Looking at the most recent financial documents submitted by the candidates, Burch reported having spent $200 on his campaign, from New Year’s Day until Jan. 23. Over that same period, Burch reported having $15,330 in outstanding loans, at least $3,000 of which came from Burch himself over the past seven months.

For his part, Fletcher reported spending $6,225 from New Year’s Day to Feb. 3, more than 30 times as much as his opponent during a slightly larger window. Over the past several months, Fletcher has received donations from state Rep. Lynn Stucky, R-Denton; current constable over Precinct 5 Doug Boydston; and Constable Precinct 3 candidate Jeri Rodriguez.

Each candidate was questioned about things that came out of background checks done by the Denton Record-Chronicle. Their answers, presented in alphabetical order, have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Tim Burch

Tim Burch

Tim Burch

Age: 61

Born in: Lynchburg, Virginia

Education: Peace officer license, 1998; basic peace officer certificate, 1999; intermediate peace officer certificate, 2000, advanced peace officer certificate, 2005; master peace officer certificate, 2011

Experience: North Richland Hills Police Department, 1998-2002, officer; Denton County Constable Precinct 4, 2003-2012, officer; Denton County Constable Precinct 4, 2013-present, constable

If elected, what steps would you take to increase and/or maintain the integrity of the office?

When I am elected March 3, the integrity of the office will be continued to be maintained as it has in the past and will continue in the future.

Please describe a situation in which you took a controversial position that angered or offended people, and explain how you handled it.

To be honest, it’s hard to recollect anything that I’ve ever stated to anyone as I let and maintained my office with a faith-based motto, but the only thing I can recollect would have been at the Commissioners Court when I attempted to correlate the constable’s office and the deputies that perform their duties was no different than people who lay their lives on the line every day in law enforcement. I did not receive any fallout from taking that position, and the only thing that I have ever had anybody question was my position in leaving my former chief of staff on administrative leave while he was under a current internal affairs investigation.

Please describe one instance in which you faced an ethical dilemma and how you resolved it.

The only thing that I can recollect as far as a dilemma that I have faced at my office or the office of Precinct 4 constable would have been to terminate my former chief of staff at the request of former County Judge Mary Horn. And my response to that dilemma was to offer putting former chief of staff Barry Minoff on unpaid administrative leave, and former County Judge Mary Horn would not accept those terms.

Danny Fletcher

Danny Fletcher

Danny Fletcher

Age: 44

Born in: Duncan, Oklahoma

Education: East Central University, criminal justice, 1998; peace officer license, 1999; basic peace officer certificate, 2001; intermediate peace officer certificate, 2004; advanced peace officer certificate, 2004; basic instructor proficiency, 2007; master peace officer certificate, 2008

Experience: Denton Police Department, 1999-present

If elected, what steps would you take to increase and/or maintain the integrity of the office?

I think that maintaining an open, transparent dialogue with the voters is important, having a track record of integrity in spite of having to make difficult decisions is important, and I think I spent 21 years building that reputation in law enforcement and in the Denton community, and I intend to continue that behavior.

Please describe a situation in which you took a controversial position that angered or offended people, and explain how you handled it.

I don’t know that I can think of one specific, but as the sergeant of the major crimes and special operations unit at the Denton Police Department, I was often faced with situations where people were upset with the outcome of the investigation. And what I have always found is that being completely open and honest about the facts can often subside the emotional part of the discussion.

Please describe one instance in which you faced an ethical dilemma and how you resolved it.

A few years ago, we had some officers that were involved with an organization outside of work that I felt like did not represent the values of our organization. Members of the public brought it to my attention and were offended by the officers’ involvement.

Initially — and these two officers were my friends, they were my close friends — I approached them initially and discouraged their involvement in the group and received negative feedback from them. So once I determined they weren’t going to voluntarily remove themselves from that situation, I reported it through the internal affairs office, which initiated an investigation. I suffered some criticism and ridicule from some of the officers, particularly those two, but I stand by that decision. It was the right thing to do both ethically and morally.

More on Tim Burch and Barry Minoff

More Denton Record-Chronicle reporting on the relationship between Constable Tim Burch and Barry Minoff. 

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.