The House passed a KLC initiative Thursday that will help keep Kentucky communities safe. House Bill 267 limits peace officer powers of newly elected, untrained constables beginning in 2023. The bill also creates a path for constables to receive the same level of training required for police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
Representative Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) told representatives why the bill is needed. “This bill ensures that a person cannot infringe on another person’s personal liberties ‒ cannot make a traffic stop, make an arrest or file criminal charges ‒ without the certification that ensures that they have received the proper law enforcement training.” He added, “Certification that we believe is important in this legislature for all other police officers.”
Kentucky has 530 constables, but only two maintain Peace Officer Professional Standards (POPS) certification. Koenig explained that House Bill 267 does not stop constables from serving their community. “They can still serve legal process, help in child support actions, serve subpoenas, direct traffic, provide funeral escorts and security at your local ballpark,” he said.
House Bill 267 allows constables to apply to any Kentucky Law Enforcement Council-certified basic training course, and it requires the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) to accept at least one qualifying constable in each training class. The Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund will cover the cost of DOCJT training.
DOCJT averages 30 officers per class with 9-10 classes a year. Newly hired police officers and sheriff’s deputies currently wait 10-11 months for the required training because of the shortage of available slots. Currently, only two constables a year apply to DOCJT.
The bill would grandfather current constables and deputy constables for as long as they serve. A delayed effective date of January 1, 2023, ensures the bill only applies to constables newly elected in 2022.
The House passed the measure by a 61-34 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration where it could have a committee hearing next week.