The Richmond Register

Local News

February 26, 2013

Amendment introduced to eliminate constables

FRANKFORT — FRANKFORT — An office created before the invention of the automobile and telephone might soon be abolished in some communities if Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, gets his way.

Koenig is sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would allow local county governments to abolish the office of constable.

“Professional policing has evolved over the past century but this office has not evolved,” said John Bizzack, commissioner of the Department of Criminal Justice Training.

(Bizzack is a former Eastern Kentucky University regent, and the university’s Justice and Safety Complex is named for him.)

He testified before the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs on behalf of Koenig’s proposal.

He directed an extensive study of the office for J. Michael Brown, Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Brown, after reading Bizzack’s report, wrote Bizzack’s findings “demonstrate that the position of constable is outdated as an arm of law enforcement.”

The office, like jailer, is created by Kentucky’s constitution, but its duties are set by statute. Constables are elected but aren’t trained as law enforcement officers, and they have occasionally run afoul of the law themselves.

Bizzack said some convicted felons have been elected constable — at least one is currently serving — and last year, a Jefferson County constable shot an alleged shoplifter after she drove her car tire over his foot as he accosted her in a shopping center parking lot.

Many counties use constables as process servers but few delegate actual law enforcement authority.

There have been previous attempts to eliminate the office, but that’s not what Koenig’s amendment would do this time. Instead, it would amend the state constitution to allow the local “legislative body of a county to abolish the office of constable.”

Koenig said some counties may rely on constables for services which other counties don’t require or accomplish through other personnel. The local option would allow the decision to be made locally, based on local circumstances and needs, he said.

Bizzack said there are more than 500 constables currently serving in Kentucky with at least one in each of the 120 counties.

But they do not receive law enforcement training, creating safety and liability concerns for local governments, he said. All other law enforcement officers in Kentucky receive a minimum of 840 hours of training, paid for by the state.

“If you’re elected, you’re a constable,” observed committee Chairman Darryl Owens, D-Louisville. “There is no requirement for any training of any kind anywhere.”

Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, said Jefferson County has between 1,400 and 1,500 highly trained police officers and doesn’t need constables.

“But some counties may need constables, so this is nearly perfect legislation,” Bratcher said.

Part of Bizzack’s study included a survey of county judge/executives, county attorneys, chiefs of police, sheriffs and the Kentucky State Police.

“The overwhelming consensus of all surveyed was that the office of constable should be stripped of law enforcement authority; a majority of groups believed the office should be abolished outright,” Bizzack’s report concludes.

There was one exception to that opinion: constables.

The 137 of the 204 constables who responded to the survey also indicated they are employed in jobs other than law enforcement.

And data from the KSP indicate constables perform less than 1 percent of all recorded law-enforcement actions.

The measure is supported by the Kentucky Association of Counties. Shellie Hampton, director of legislative affairs for KACo, said local officials are concerned primarily about safety but also have some liability concerns.

Koenig’s bill passed out of committee and now goes to the full House.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/

cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-18 PackTrack1a.jpg Walkers, runners of every age ‘Pack the Track’

    Waco Elementary and Model Laboratory schools students raised more than $8,000 (and counting) for the annual Pack the Track event at Eastern Kentucky University’s Tom Samuels Track Thursday, said Kim DeCoste of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

    April 18, 2014 14 Photos

  • 4-18 George WilliamsWEB.jpg Suicide attempt fatal for inmate

    A Todd County man died Tuesday at a Lexington hospital following a suicide attempt at the Madison County Detention Center, according to Madison and Fayette county officials.
    George Kenneth Williams, 50, of Allensville, was transported Monday afternoon by Madison County EMS to Baptist Health Richmond, according to EMS Director Jimmy Cornelison. He was then transferred to Baptist Health in Lexington where he died Tuesday, according to the Fayette County Coroner’s Office.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • CCDW instructor indicted on charges of failing to provide training

    A Madison County grand jury has indicted a carry-concealed weapons permit instructor on charges he falsely claimed to have provided instruction to one person for a CCDW permit and provided incomplete training to three others.
    Christopher D. Fins was indicted April 9 on one count of CCDW instructor not providing firearms training and three counts of providing incomplete firearms training.
    Fins faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of all four felony charges.

    April 17, 2014

  • EKU dorm sprinklers may have been activated maliciously

    Fire-suppression sprinklers went off about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in Eastern Kentucky University’s Martin Hall dormitory, prompting its evacuation.
    Fluctuating pressure then caused a campus water main to break, according to EKU spokesperson Mark Whitt.
    The cause is uncertain, but university officials are investigating to determine if the sprinklers were activated maliciously, Whitt said.
    The residence hall houses 260 students who were placed in other university housing or stayed with friends. All were able to move back in later in the day, he said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sixth person charged in motel meth bust

    A sixth person has been charged in connection with a methamphetamine-making operation discovered last week at the Bel Air Motel in Richmond.
    Roger M. Million, 24, Moberly Road, was charged Wednesday with manufacturing methamphetamine.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-18 George WilliamsWEB.jpg Madison County inmate dies in Lexington hospital

    An inmate at the Madison County Detention Center died Tuesday at a Lexington hospital, according to officials with the Fayette County Coroner’s Office and Madison County EMS.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sprinkler goes off; dorm evacuated

    Fire-suppression sprinklers went off at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in Eastern Kentucky University’s Martin Hall dormitory, prompting its evacuation.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-17 4Hfieldday1.jpg 4-H Environmental Field Day

    Madison County fourth-graders participated in several hands-on activities Tuesday and Wednesday during the annual 4-H Environmental Field Day at the county fairgrounds.

    April 16, 2014 8 Photos

  • Hearing delayed on West Main zone change

    Signs giving notice of a public hearing on a proposed zone change at the corner of West Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue were not posted in time for the Richmond Planning Commission to scheduled a public hearing for its April 24 business session.

    April 16, 2014

  • Berea mulls break with Kentucky Utilities

    The city of Berea is considering whether to extend its contract with Kentucky Utilities or to shop around for another electricity provider.

    April 16, 2014

AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should the Richmond City Commission stop rezoning property to allow construction of apartments?

Yes.
No
     View Results