Apr 22, 2017

Deputy Constable’s Mission: Protect, Serve and Entertain

Reporting Texas

Stinson talks with Susie Bates, 86, at a weekly lunch in Liberty Hill. Members of the Williamson County Constable’s Office volunteer at the event every Thursday. Ignatius Koh/Reporting Texas

Deputy Roosevelt Monroe Stinson cruises through a school zone in Cedar Park and activates his radar. As an employee of the Williamson County Constable’s Office, Precinct 2, he doesn’t make routine traffic stops or respond to calls for service. But Stinson is galvanized by a passion to protect and serve, and he doesn’t waste an opportunity to do so.

Stinson, 52, served in the Army and then the Navy for over two decades. These days, the self-proclaimed “writ guy” mainly serves legal papers – warrants, protection orders, child custody documents and the like. He also volunteers at weekly lunches for the Over the Hill Gang, a gathering of seniors, at a former bingo hall in Liberty Hill – placing silverware, napkins and cups on lunch trays.

“That’s just the type of person he is,” said Deputy Randy Hinson, who has worked with Stinson for four years. “He’s a good cop and a good friend. Monroe knows how to handle himself with a lot of different people.”

Service is only one facet of Stinson’s persona. He has been married to his wife, Maura, for 26 years,  and they have two grown children.  A family man, a cop and a musician, he carries his service handgun on weekdays and a bass guitar on weekends.

“There’s nothing like playing good music and entertaining folks,” he said.
The self-taught bassist started playing percussion as a kid in a North Carolina praise and worship band. Over the years, the church ensemble steadily gained drummers, and Stinson decided to pick up a new instrument to guarantee more stage time. His mom bought him a “cheap” bass guitar, and Stinson set about teaching himself how to play.

“It’s something inside – a passion for the instrument – and a passion for music, just liking it,” he said. “It fit me well, so I learned pretty quick.”

Stinson plays the bass at Angel’s Icehouse, a bar in Spicewood. Stinson is part of Moonlight Boulevard, a Motown and rhythm and blues band. Ignatius Koh/Reporting Texas

Since his teenage years, he’s played in bands “all over the world and with people from all walks of life.” As a soldier stationed in Germany, he played with a band on his base. While on the SWAT team at the Austin Police Department, he joined Undercover, an all-cop band.

“Monroe is a marvelous bass player,” Hinson said. “The first time I saw him play, I was amazed at how he handles a bass guitar.”

Today, Stinson plays for Mama’s Love Child, a three-piece soft rock band, and Moonlight Boulevard, a nine-piece Motown, soul and R&B band. At a recent show in Spicewood, a concert-goer described Stinson’s bass playing as “smooth.” On stage, the bassist focuses intently on his music.

“When we’re on stage, he’s so quiet, you get the feeling he’s analyzing every little thing. He’s listening,” said Matthew Alvarez, guitarist for Moonlight Boulevard. “He never makes mistakes.”

Alvarez founded the band with musician friends three years ago. He said Stinson, who applied to be in the band through a Craigslist ad, “turned out to be literally the perfect candidate.”

There are many modern soul bands in Austin, but Alvarez wanted drums, guitars and vocals playing in a nostalgic style echoing a bygone era.

“Motown would be described as a feeling, more than anything,” Alvarez said. “It speaks to everybody, regardless of what’s in pop culture.”

Stinson is two decades older than his bandmates, but he says he can “outrun and out lift any of them.” At six feet tall and 250 pounds of solid muscle, Stinson looks like he belongs in uniform.

“The man’s bicep is the size of my head,” Alvarez said. “And his stature – Monroe enters a room with a presence.”

“They give me my respect,” Stinson added.

On a nine-month deployment in Yugoslavia in 1991, Stinson stayed in shape by bench-pressing an axle from a Fiat – the closest thing to a barbell he could find. While he can no longer press 400 pounds, he says lifting and running are still “a way of life.”

Stinson enlisted in the Army at age 17 through a delayed entry program, finishing high school just before going to boot camp. After 13 years of “ground-pounding, hands-on” service in the Army and seven years of “technical work” in the Navy, he retired from the military and moved to Austin.

He worked at the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle and later joined APD as a patrol officer downtown and a SWAT team member, among other roles. He’s been at the William County Constable’s Office for four years, still protecting and serving, in a different manner.

Stinson, 52, completes the day’s rounds, which started in Cedar Park. Ignatius Koh/Reporting Texas

On a recent morning, he drove to a home in Leander and stopped his vehicle in the driveway. “Beware of dog” signs poked through a chainlink fence that  was closed and padlocked. The deputy activated his car horn and waited several minutes. No one came to the door. Stinson wrote on a yellow tag, noting that he had come to serve a writ, and left it on the fence.  “This is my calling card,” he said.

“Sometimes people don’t want to see us, because they know we’re the bearers of bad news,” he said. “I just do my due diligence, serving documents.”

During a three-hour drive, he talked over the persistent chatter from the police scanner. Stinson entered data about his writ deliveries, found his way to remote rural homes and small businesses and told animated stories as he drove through rush hour on U.S. 183 and winding roads around Liberty Hill.

At the heart of all he does – police work, volunteering, playing the bass – Stinson is motivated by variety and opportunity, always seeking new and exciting experiences.

“I’m a people person,” he said. “I make every instance when I come into contact with someone meaningful. I try to always treat people with respect and dignity.”

For Hinson’s 64th birthday last May, Stinson baked a red velvet cake – his friend’s favorite dessert.

“It was absolutely delicious,” Hinson said. “But don’t get the wrong idea. He’s compassionate, but in a manly way, so to speak. If we need somebody to be intimidating, he jumps to the front of the line.”

Hinson added: “He’s the kind of guy who’ll hand-make a cake for you or take a bullet for you.”