The House Local Government Committee cleared the KLC initiative that addresses peace officer powers of newly elected constables.
KLC Director of Public Affairs Bryanna Carroll testified alongside bill sponsor Representative Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger). House Bill 239 would require any constable elected after November 2022 to receive the same training as police officers and sheriff’s deputies to perform law enforcement functions.
The bill does not remove the position of constable, does not stop constables from serving their communities, and does not impact any current constable or deputy constable. Constables could still serve summonses and subpoenas, collect fees for services, direct traffic, provide funeral escorts, and perform other duties first outlined when Kentucky established the position in 1850.
“There are more than 500 constables in Kentucky, yet only two have Peace Officer Professional Standards (POPS) certification,” explained Koenig, “meaning they have met the same training requirements as police officers and sheriff’s deputies. It is important for the safety of our communities and trained law enforcement officers that anyone with a badge and a gun who can take you into custody, initiate a pursuit, or even use deadly force is someone who is instructed on how and when to use these tactics.”
House Bill 239 provides a path for constables to receive certification. “The provision to accept one qualified constable per DOCJT (Department of Criminal Justice Training) training class was added despite a wait of several months for newly hired police officers and sheriff’s deputies,” Carroll told the committee. “We felt it is important that people who are enforcing laws in our communities be trained, certified, law enforcement.”
DOCJT knows of only one constable who applied to the academy over the past five years. Additionally, only 13 constables applied for DOCJT in-service classes.
Koenig said several high-profile arrests in recent years highlight the need for the legislation. “We need to pass this bill to ensure our citizens do not have their liberties infringed upon by people who are not trained, law-abiding citizens,” he added.
The bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.