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Constables Report Encourages Lawmakers Seeking to Abolish Office

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odmp.org

Kentucky lawmakers who advocate abolishing the office of constable are emboldened by a new report from the state justice cabinet calling for just that. Constables have the same law enforcement powers as county sheriffs, but without the specific duties. Like sheriffs, the position is outlined in the constitution. For years, lawmakers have tried to pass a constitutional amendment to end the office. The report said constables have little law enforcement purpose in Kentucky, accounting for .20 of recorded law enforcement in the state.

The report called the job "irrelevant."

State Rep. Adam Koenig, of Erlanger, is one of those lawmakers. His bill would give counties the option to get rid of their constables.

Koenig said the justice cabinet report -- which called for the abolition, or at least limitation, of the constables --  may be enough to finally send the proposal to voters.

?I hope so," he said. "It does provide a lot of research, which I did not have before, it provides a weigh and it gives statistics."

But no amendments have passed out of the legislature to be put on the ballot yet.

Last week, the president of the Kentucky Constable Association argued that constables can still play a significant role in law enforcement -- and that abolishing the posts would remove about 500 law officers from Kentucky.

Regardless, Koenig said he?s hopeful the new report will allow an amendment to get to voters -- but that amendment may encounter another hurdle.

?It would certainly take a lot of information and a lot of selling to people,"  Koenig said. "You know I think it would do better in the urban areas and I think in the rural areas, there?s a lot of counties who have six or seven magistrates in a small county. So those people might want to protect their position."

Koenig says supporters will get together to find out what type of proposal to back in the upcoming legislative session.

Kenny Colston is the Frankfort Bureau Chief for Kentucky Public Radio (a collaborative effort of public radio stations in Kentucky). Colston has covered Kentucky's Capitol and state government since 2010. He is a Louisville native, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. When he's not tracking down stories about Kentucky politics, you can often find him watching college sports, particularly football.
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