February 26, 2013

Kentucky Counties Could Eliminate Constable Positions

Under a bill approved by the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs, counties could get rid of constable offices if they choose to.

What the proposal would do was amend Kentucky's constitution, which founded the position of constable in 1850.

The major concern for constables, which have the same powers as sheriffs do, is there have been abuses in the past because of lack of training to prepare them for the jobs. That has resulted in some constables abusing their powers.

Of course the rebuttal to that is many so-called trained law enforcement officers do the same, so that may or may not be the real issue. It's usually the person that has the powers that determines whether or not there is abuse, not the lack of training.

Nonetheless, knowing how to properly handle a situation does lend itself to better conduct, and in general it appears the higher percentage of constables abusing their powers could be from lack of training, or possibly from lack of vetting those in the position.

The Kentucky Constable Association has and does oppose this move, saying rather then get rid of the office the constables should receive more training.

But the costs would be prohibitive, as there simply isn't the money available to do so.

There is also the fact that constables only account for a quarter of 1 percent of law enforcement actions in the state, according to the 2012 state report commissioned by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

The report added that 16 other states have already eliminated the position from their law enforcement roles.

Next the House will take up the bill.

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