Commonwealth Journal

Local News

November 12, 2012

Position of constable called into question by state agency

(Continued)

Somerset —

He added that while Wood has “never complained” about his role, “when you start thinking about how much money constables could make serving papers and the money that’s taking away from the sheriff’s office,” there’s bound to be conflict.
Wood essentially agreed. “The papers (constables) serve hurt sheriff’s offices,” he said. “With our budget, a great deal of the operating funds through the year come from serving papers. Here, we have a larger sheriff’s office in a larger county, so we still get an ample number of papers. Smaller sheriff’s offices, those are papers they don’t get. That takes money away from them.
“You could probably do the math,” he added. “If they’re serving 100 papers every two weeks and they’re charging $40 (a document), that would be $4,000. You can see what a large number of papers like that could do to a sheriff’s office’s budget.”
Different constables charge different fees per document; there’s no uniform set number. Palmer declined to state what he charges, but touted his record of a less-than-72-hour typical turnaround, with most papers delivered within 24 hours.
Palmer did say that if he sees someone in distress, he’ll “help out,” or turn on his blue lights and lend a hand if he comes across an accident. Wood didn’t dispute the constable’s ability to enter this kind of situation.
“I’m not going to get into what they should or shouldn’t do,” said Wood. “The Constitution speaks to itself. The most important thing is that everyone is very well-trained.”
Wallace said that he’s always worked well with local law enforcement agencies, and feels that he is an asset to them due to his ability to free up more manpower.
“If I could take a (call) to unlock someone’s car door, that frees (a deputy or officer) up to go work a wreck,” said Wallace. “I feel I helped out there. ... I just wanted to try to help the community I grew up in.”

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