Report: Lexington considers changes to 165-year-old constable of - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Report: Lexington considers changes to 165-year-old constable office

(Source: WAVE 3 News) (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LEXINGTON, KY (WAVE) - Months after WAVE 3 News and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting looked into the role constables play around the state, the city of Lexington is considering limiting it.

According to a report Thursday on KyCIR.org, an Urban County Council committee created a subgroup this week to assess what Fayette County's three constables are doing and whether changes are necessary.

A councilman requested the review over the summer, and a councilwoman said Tuesday that it could take months. Jennifer Mossotti, chair of the council's planning and public safety committee, added that several colleagues have expressed "deep concerns" about constables, and said their only authority could end up being the delivery of court papers, KyCIR.org reported.

Constables were a 19th-century norm, but Kentucky is now one of only 17 states that still elect them. They usually have little or no police training, but, armed with guns and badges, they initiate traffic stops that sometimes escalate to high-speed pursuits. While trying to enforce the law, some end up getting into trouble themselves.

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Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard said he supports the idea of limiting the constables' roles in law-enforcement, if not getting rid of the office entirely.

"Do you want to get pulled over by someone in a Toyota Camry, if that constable doesn’t even know how to write a ticket, or about the legality of a traffic stop, or have training on search and seizure?" Barnard asked.

Added Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt: "The office of constable has long outlived its usefulness."

Kentucky Constable Association President Jason Rector did not respond to KyCIR.org's request for comment.

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