Commonwealth Journal

Local News

November 12, 2012

Position of constable called into question by state agency

Somerset —  

Gene Palmer has lived a life of action. He’s not desperate for more of it.
Palmer, who served in the military for almost three decades, 14 years in the ultra-intense Special Forces, now holds the title of Pulaski County Constable, District 3. 
In this role, Palmer is content to deliver court documents to doorsteps. He is elected to the position and allowed to run the blue lights commonly identified with law enforcement atop his car, yet the thrill of the chase isn’t so thrilling to him. Not anymore, at least.
“Though I don’t like to see people run stoplights or speed, at the age of 74, I don’t like to play cops and robbers,” he said. “(Making arrests) is not something I like to do.”
Those constables that do, however, became the epicenter of controversy this week, drawing fire from the commission of the Department of Criminal Justice training following a year-long study that suggested constables are unprepared to engage in law enforcement.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the study by the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council — made up of sheriffs, police chiefs, and state police — found that the state’s constables (more than 500 of them) performed a quarter of 1 percent of all law-enforcement work and received little to no training for this task.
The report also cites incidents involving constables from around the Commonwealth involving arrests and confrontations which stood to prove hazardous.
The Department of Criminal Justice Training’s Commission John Bizzack stated that these constables “are unregulated and have no standards.”
Here’s the catch: Constables aren’t required by the state to receive law enforcement training, the same way others who carry a badge and make arrests are — and no one pays for them to do so either.
Palmer has opted to do so on his own — at his own expense.

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