Kentucky constables could soon be a thing of the past - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Kentucky constables could be a thing of the past

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Kentucky has had constables since 1850 when the state constitution included them as an office. It's an elected position and constables don't receive any mandated training.

Getting rid of the office would require a constitutional amendment, but the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown says the office of the constable is outdated and as an arm of law enforcement can be a liability.

On the flip side, the constables say they provide a valuable service and fill in the gaps for other branches of law enforcement. Anyone can run for constable. They're paid $9,000 a year, wear a badge, carry a gun and can arrest people.

Some say there are some big problems with them. "Of the 508 or 509, there are three right now who have police officer certifications," says Brown. "I just think that in this day and age that it's a public concern when you have people who are armed and have all the judicial and law enforcement powers but don't have the training to be law enforcement," said Brown.

In addition to no training being required, no background check is required. There's no job application, there's no license application, so who's going to know if one has a criminal record? The fact is a constable can have a criminal record. For example, the constable in Louisville who shot a woman in the face and arm for shoplifting outside a Walmart in November 2011.

Most counties have three constables but Edward Sparks, the Vice President of the Kentucky Constable Association, has gone on record saying they are definitely needed, especially in rural areas in the state. "At midnight tonight there will be no deputies on the street so the only people who can respond to calls are (a) the constables or (b) the Kentucky State Police," he said.

The issue is in the hands of the Kentucky Legislature who can either create a constitutional amendment, use a little known statute and reduce the powers of a constable or do nothing and leave the issue alone.

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