By Greg Bird
Kentucky Representative Adam Koenig has introduced a bill that would severely limit the powers and authorities of Constables if passed.
House Bill 420 would create a new statute that would eliminate the arrest powers of constables, effectively removing their “peace officer” status and limiting them to the ability to serve court papers and deal with livestock.
The position of Constable was established in 1850 under the Kentucky Constitution, but unlike police officers, Constables are not required to have state-approved certification and training to hold the position. The only requirements for being a Constable are living in the District for at least one year prior to the election and being 24-years old or older.
Kentucky is one of only 17 states that elect constables, and only 16 others maintain the position but appoint rather than elect. The remaining states have abolished the position outright.
In Kentucky most Constables do not receive a salary from the Fiscal Courts in the counties they serve, but rather are paid through fees from serving paperwork for the Court. McCreary County does have an annual salary of $7,092 for the four elected Constables. With benefits added to the position, plus an additional fuel expense awarded by the Fiscal Court the annual expense to the County budget is about $67,000.
Representative Koenig had made previous attempts to introduce a Constitutional Amendment eliminating the Constable position altogether, but those had failed to gain any traction in the Legislature.
Koenig stated the bill is expected to be voted upon in the House this week. If passed it will move to the Senate for consideration. Koenig represents the 69th District, which includes Boone and Kenton Counties.