Bill would require future constables to get training

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Future constables would have to receive professional law enforcement training before wielding police powers under a bill passed by the Kentucky House on Thursday.

The role of constables — and even whether the job should exist — has been debated by lawmakers for years. The compromise bill that cleared the House would not apply to current constables.
It would require people assuming the role starting in 2023 to receive certification like other law enforcement officers before exercising such police powers as making traffic stops and arrests.

Most constables have little or no training but wield many of the same powers as police officers and sheriff’s deputies, said Republican Rep. Adam Koenig, the bill’s lead sponsor. The measure seeks to ensure that “everyone who is able to … pull you over in the middle of the night, arrest you and take you to jail, that they are certified and trained,” he said.

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The bill’s opponents said it wouldn’t set aside enough training slots for future constables. Constables in rural Kentucky play crucial roles providing backup for other law enforcement, they said.

“What would you do if you’re on a backroad … and you’re asking for support and nobody comes because House Bill 267 takes it away from somebody?” Republican Rep. Bill Wesley said.

The measure cleared the House on a 61-34 vote and now goes to the Senate.