Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Constable Larry Gallardo plans to run for a sixth term in March, when he’ll face a challenger for the first time since 2004.
Gallardo will run for re-election against La Joya police Officer Miguel Flores in the Democratic Party primary.
Lazaro “Larry” Gallardo Jr., 56, of Palmhurst graduated from Mission High School in 1981. He always wanted to work in law enforcement.
“It’s always been an interest of mine. Ever since I was a kid,” Gallardo said. “I remember riding around our neighborhood, way back when I was a child, playing cops and robbers. And I was always a cop.”
During the 1990s, when Gallardo worked for the Mission school district, he became a reserve deputy under Precinct 3 Constable Luis Zamora. Gallardo decided to run for constable in 2000.
“I spent a lot of time in the constable’s office,” Gallardo said, adding that he handled paperwork and other tasks without pay. “They had hand-me-down vehicles. So I was the one who would install the lights and equipment, and keep those things going.”
After he won the election, Gallardo directed the deputy constables to focus on serving court paperwork.
“We are peace officers. We can patrol. We can investigate. We can do all these things,” Gallardo said, but deputy constables specialize in serving court paperwork and largely allow the Sheriff’s Office to handle law enforcement in rural areas. “So we try to take as much of that work away so they can concentrate more on patrol, investigations and the jail.”
Gallardo, however, gradually expanded the Precinct 3 Constable’s Office.
Along with serving court paperwork, deputy constables provide security at Anzalduas Park, partner with school districts to protect students, investigate illegal dumping and provide support to other law enforcement officers.
The Precinct 3 Constable’s Office assigned a deputy to the local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force and contracted with Hidalgo County Irrigation District #6 to patrol canals.
Grants and partnerships allowed the Precinct 3 Constable’s Office to expand without asking Hidalgo County taxpayers for additional funding, Gallardo said.
It now employs 17 law enforcement officers.
After nearly two decades on the job, Gallardo is the longest serving constable in Hidalgo County. He’s also become a member of state and national associations, where he provides advice to peers and speaks with lawmakers about the role constables play.
The Justices of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas named him constable of the year in 2007 and 2010. Gallardo serves as president of the Texas Association of Counties.
“I love what I do. I think that we’ve done a great job over the years,” Gallardo said, adding that he attempted to set a high bar — and an example for other constables. “I just believe in what I do. I believe in the process. I believe in our county. I believe in county government.”
Gallardo will run against La Joya police Officer Miguel Flores, 38, of Mission in the Democratic Party primary.
Flores is perhaps best known for providing information to federal agents about the Panama Unit, a street-level narcotics squad that went rogue and started robbing drug smugglers.
The Panama Unit investigation resulted in the conviction of seven sheriff’s deputies and two Mission police officers, including Jonathan Treviño, the son of then-Sheriff Lupe Treviño.
Nov. 9 is the first day for candidates to file ballot applications for the March primary.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Sept. 13, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.