State report: Abolish constables in Kentucky - News, Weather & Sports

State report: Abolish constables in Kentucky

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David Whitlock David Whitlock
Butch Kerrick Butch Kerrick

MEADE COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky law enforcement officials are calling for either the elimination of constables in the Commonwealth or stripping away their law enforcement powers.

The report said constables are no longer essential in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Law Enforcement Council made the recommendations Thursday, one year after constable David Whitlock shot a woman in a Wal-Mart parking lot. He resigned from the position in October of 2012 as part of a plea deal.

Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said there have been issues with constables around Kentucky.

While there are a handful in every Kentucky county, they are primarily used in smaller counties.

"Most of it is rural," Meade County Sheriff Butch Kerrick said in describing the make-up of the area.

It's those small, quiet communities where constables said they are needed the most.

"You can go one county way from Jefferson county and at midnight there won't be any deputy sheriff officers on the street. So the only person who can respond to a call is a constable or KSP," said Kentucky Constable Association Vice President Edward Sparks.

Sheriff Butch Kerrick said that's not the case.

"We work very well with the local law enforcement community which includes Muldraugh which has four or five officers, Brandenburg has four or five officers and I have six road deputies that patrol 24/7 out here," Kerrick said.

He said in emergencies, Kentucky State Police step in.

"We don't use constables. I think personally they're a liability," Sheriff Kerrick said.

Constables are elected, with anywhere of three to eight in a given county. Once elected to their four year term, which pays less than $9,000 a year, there's little regulation.

"The constables are actually the elected official in charge of their office. They are like the chief of police or the sheriff," Spark said.

That's something Sheriff Kerrick has an issue with.

In fact, he's actually cited one for violating the county's ban on constable's using blue lights to pull people over. The sheriff says he agrees with Thursday's report, which calls for an elimination of constables.

"85 or 90 percent of constables that are elected have no prior law enforcement experience," Sheriff Kerrick said. "I'm an advocate of if you carry a badge and a gun, you should have gone through the police academy."

It's actually state lawmakers who determine the roles constable's play in the state, however it's not clear if that'll come up in their January legislative session.

To view the state's full report, click here.

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