Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

February 27, 2013

Amendment introduced to eliminate constables

By RONNIE ELLIS
CNHI

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Brown, after reading Bizzack’s report, wrote Bizzack’s findings “demonstrate that the position of constable is outdated as an arm of law enforcement.”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

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