WKYT - Frankfort - Headlines

Constables considered irrelevant in state study

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A statewide study, released by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, in Kentucky, says Constables aren't needed.

"Constables in Kentucky accounted for 0.02% of law enforcement activity in the state. Statistically a zero," explained J. Michael Brown, Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Constables are elected, and have been in service for nearly 200 years. However, Secretary Brown says Constables, in today's times, don't have the same training as police but have the same power.

"That creates a danger to themselves, the public, ti their counties and it's just not what we should have in Kentucky anymore."

"Out of the four, I'm the only one that has training," said Madison County Constable Bruce Thomas.

Thomas, who also runs his own family restaurant, says he can't argue with the report, Kentucky Constables need to be trained.

"It's for everyone's benefit. If it goes to court you don't want to lose the case," stated Thomas.

While Thomas has roughly 20 years of law enforcement experience, he acknowledges that other constables statewide don't have the same level of understanding.

"I think there's been issues where a Taser has been used by one of the Constables, there have been some traffic stops that he really doesn't have a clue as to what he's doing."

The report released, today, says there have been problems statewide. In 2008, a Garrard County Constable was recorded on 9-1-1 getting into a fight with his neighbor, after he was reported for a noise complaint.

Still, Thomas does take issue with the the report's claim that Constables are irrelevant.

"I've got a lot I think I can add," he said.

Thomas and other Constables say their primary role is to serve court documents. A task they say can really help other law enforcement officials by removing the paper work that can slow them down.

"The Office of Constable in Fayette County provides a vital service to
the Courts. The three offices serve thousands of civil papers at zero
expense to the tax payers.We derive our funding from the service fees
charged to individual plaintiffs and attorneys. By serving in this way we free up salaried individuals to do other law enforcement duties," Fayette County Constable Steve Hamlin said in a statement.

While the study raises questions about the need for Constables, getting rid of them all together would take action in Frankfort.

"They are a constitutional office, I don't have the authority to change the constitution," explained Secretary Brown.

Madison County Constable Thomas says until then Kentucky Constables should be trained.

Brown estimates that there are still more than 30 states that still use Constables.


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