Thu November 8, 2012
Kentucky Constable Offices Should be Abolished or limited, Report Says
A new report by Kentucky's Justice Cabinet advocates the elimination or limiting of Kentucky's constable offices.
The office is established in the Kentucky Constitution, but the report said constables no longer help law enforcement -- performing but .02 percent of all recorded law enforcement in the state -- and are often liabilities to counties.
“For the most part, constables perform security guard functions, direct traffic at events or serve civil process," the report said.
In Kentucky, constables are given law enforcement powers upon taking the elected office -- though they must be bonded by their counties. Constables are not required to have any training or past qualifications to take office.
Each Kentucky county has a constable per county magisterial district. Kentucky has 586 magisterial districts, and 509 constable offices are filled, the report said.
Jefferson County has three constable offices.
The office has recently been criticized after several high-profile incidents involving constables in Louisville and Lexington. Last year, a Jefferson County constables shot and injured a woman he suspected of shoplifting from a Louisville Walmart. During the last legislative session, some legislators endeavored to pass a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the office, but it did not gain enough support to make it to the ballot this year.
If lawmakers attempt to remove the office through an amendment again, it would not go to voters to decide until 2014.
Surveys found that a majority of Kentucky police chiefs, sheriffs, county judge-executives and county attorneys supported abolishing the office or limiting their powers.