Friday, November 09, 2012

Official Ky. report says office of constable is 'outdated and irrelevant,' should be dissolved

A new report released Thursday says that the office of the constable is "outdated and irrelevant as an arm of law enforcement and poses potential liabilities for counties." The report was commissioned by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Secretary, J. Michael Brown after several high-profile incidents occurred involving constables in the state over the past year.

Constables used to be vital members of law enforcement in many rural places, but over time other agencies took on their duties and the role of constables became blurred, Wendy Mitchell of The Ledger Independent in Maysville, Ky., reports. The report, "Constables in Kentucky: Contemporary Issues and Finding Surrounding an Outdated Office," was a six-month review that included historical perspectives of the constable, and other states' experience with the office.

Constable duties in the commonwealth have been handled in different ways in different counties. In the Buffalo Trace region, Bracken County Fiscal Court members put restrictions on constable use of police style lights and radio communications. They also required the five county constables to post their own bond. In nearby Lewis County, however, constables often accompany police when asked and patrol rural areas.

The report says that "an overwhelming majority of county and law enforcement officials see little to no practical purpose behind the constitutional office, and believe it should be abolished or its law enforcement authority eliminated or restricted," Mitchell writes. Constables have no formal training, education or experience before being elected to the position, the report says. This is inconsistent with Peace Officer Professional Standards, which require pre-employment standards.

According to Wikipedia, Kentucky is one of 18 states that still employ constables as peace officers. Those states include many rural states. They are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. Several other states employ the office of constable in other capacities. (Read more)

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