Dallas County constables' tow operator under state investigation


by By KEVIN KRAUSE / The Dallas Morning News


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:42 AM

State regulators have been inspecting records this week at Dowdy Ferry Auto Services, where many of the vehicles towed by constables are stored, a county official says.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has more than one investigation into operations at Dowdy Ferry, which has an almost exclusive towing arrangement with Constables Derick Evans and Jaime Cortes.

Because the constables do not make sure towed vehicles are properly disposed of, it's unclear whether people whose cars were towed after traffic stops are correctly notified. It's also unclear where those thousands of vehicles ended up because the constables don't auction abandoned vehicles, as most other police agencies do.

J.D. Newell of J.D. Newell Auctioneers said Wednesday that Evans had called him to say he is interested in auctioning towed vehicles, but a deal is on hold because of the state's investigation of Dowdy Ferry.

Newell, whose company handles auctions for many police agencies, said Evans initially reached out to him about two years ago but never got back to him about a contract for auctioning.

In 2007, Evans went to Dallas County commissioners asking to set up an abandoned vehicle disposal program similar to the one being used by Constable Roma Skinner of Precinct 4.

Under that proposal, which the commissioners approved, Evans would have supervised the disposal of abandoned vehicles that his officers had towed. Dowdy Ferry would have had to send his office lists of abandoned vehicles and pay a $10 fee per vehicle to offset the constable's costs.

An escrow account was set up to hold that money but was never used because Evans decided not to implement the initiative, county officials said.

Dowdy Ferry, like other licensed vehicle storage facilities, is required by state law to notify a police agency of vehicles that were towed but never picked up and thus are considered abandoned.