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What is a constable?

By PJ Martin


The Herald-News


In the continuing series, we will explain what a Constable does per the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS).

Constables are elected to the district of the county in which they live. Constable is defined as a peace officer and is responsible for carrying out law enforcement. They are also eligible for the same police training as is provided to other peace officers.

If during an election year, no candidates run for an individual district, the County Judge/Executive has the power to fill the vacancy by appointing someone.

Constables have the authority to make arrests and serve court processes. They may execute warrants, deliver summonses, serve subpoenas, attachments, notices, rules, and orders of the court in all criminal, penal, and civil cases per KRS 70.350.

As with sheriffs and their deputies, any process given to the constable to serve must be carried out unless they are unable to locate the person named. They may execute all processes except those in which they are personally connected. They may not serve any papers to anyone known to live outside their district unless it is in the name of the Commonwealth of Kentucky or against property in their district according to KRS 70.350.

They are authorized to go outside their district only in their county, to collect claims owed for services performed per KRS 70.350.


KY Dept of Criminal Justice Training

It is worth acknowledging that a group was formed in 2012 by the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training to look into the role of Constable in modern-day county government. The group consisted of members from the Dept. of Criminal Justice Training, Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Law Enforcement Council, Kentucky Sheriff’s Association, Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, Kentucky Association of Counties, and the Kentucky League of Cities.

The group’s findings are documented in a report entitled “Constables in Kentucky: Contemporary issues and Findings Surrounds an Outdated Office”.

The report lists six statewide surveys including law enforcement (constables, state police, sheriffs, chiefs, judge/executives, and county attorneys) with more than 1,400 responses, historical state data, and experiences in other states concerning the position of constable.

In summarizing the findings reported to the Ky DOCJT, the position of constable is outdated as an arm of law enforcement. Today’s law enforcement is thoroughly trained under rigorous standards, however, the position of constable lacks the required training and accountability.

The results were House Bill 437 (BR 1429) to create a new section of KRS 65.003 and 65.158 and SB 30 (BR 449) to propose an amendment to Section 99 of the Constitution of Kentucky.

The acts are still in limbo within the legislature.

The entire document can be found at the following site:



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