A Lexington city council committee will soon review constable policies in the central Kentucky community.
Council member Kevin Stinnett requested the hearing following recent news stories about constables from WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. (Read “Kentucky Constables: Untrained And Unaccountable“)
“I think it’s time to make people aware of what’s going on and the efforts that have been made the last couple of years before the state legislature to alter that and their role in the community,” Stinnett said. “Do we need to do anything different like Louisville did and create a separate ordinance that regulates the deputies?”
Stinnett said there are three constables in Fayette County. He said those constables are not limited in the number of deputies to hire.
“You know, the oversight of them on a daily basis falls to county judge executive. With a merged government, mayor, and council, it’s a little different than it would be in another county,” explained Stinnett.
The KyCIR investigation, produced with WAVE-3 News in Louisville, found:
Constables are gods unto themselves, armed with badges and guns but almost always with little or no formal training. They masquerade as qualified, legitimate police, but case after case shows that they often pose a threat to public safety.
Some cruise around the county pulling drivers over or engaging in unnecessary and dangerous high-speed pursuits. Some use unauthorized blue lights. Others make questionable arrests that later collapse in court. Many have faced criminal charges of their own.
Despite this history, the cycle of constable-initiated misdeeds continues unabated. Because the office is enshrined in the state constitution, constables are responsible to no one except a small slice of a county’s voters every four years. And many voters don’t know what constables do.
Stinnett said he and other council members have not received any complaints about constable actions in the Lexington area.
Stinnett said the issue will likely be back before committee members in August or September.
This story was produced by Stu Johnson of WEKU, a partner news organization and member of the Kentucky Public Radio Network.