BROOKSVILLE -- Adding five newly elected constables to a county liability insurance policy is required, Bracken County Fiscal Court members were told Wednesday.
The additions will cost the county $367 to $735 per officer, depending on how the court voted on the part- or full-time status of constables in Bracken County.
After decades without an actual constable serving, the court found itself with five following the November elections.
The position, a holdover from decades past, has the same powers of a sheriff, without the salary or tax collection duties, said Bracken County Attorney Mike Clark.
A constable may carry a gun, openly, unless they have a concealed carry permit, may investigate crimes, question people and file charges, Clark said.
Sheriff-elect Howard Niemeier suggested liability bond be set at $50,000 each, due to the possibility of a constable being in possession of property with a value that high. He used the example of an expensive vehicle being towed to explain the suggestion.
Magistrates discussed the need for a bond, but not one beyond fair and reasonable for the position.
Clark presented options of the court setting a bond value, at least the KRS minimum $10,000, and not allowing constables to use blue lights or sirens on their vehicles or county radio frequency use; or setting the bond and allowing blue lights, sirens and radio frequency access if constables go through the Department of Corrections training courses and gun handling training.
Cost of training would be the responsibility of each constable, though actual courses are free, the time, 18 weeks, and meals are not, he said.
A recognized office in Kentucky since 1850, constables were necessary to assist with old justice courts in communities across the commonwealth. Justice courts have been absorbed into district courts, but the constable office was never eliminated, officials said in January when candidates began signing up for the primary.
According to the Kentucky Constitution, a constable has certain duties they must perform and others they may perform; not performing required duties is grounds for forfeiture of the office.
According to state law, constables are able to request compensation for several activities, including a dollar for killing a mad dog, 50 cents for "taking up a vagrant," two dollars for killing and burying cattle, and 50 cents for "making arrest for violations involving a motor vehicle on the public highways," and other fees to apprehend fugitives and execute summons on order of the court.
Orders of the court are currently passed from the judge to circuit clerk to sheriff for processing, official said. Fees from such duties are part of the operating budgets of the sheriff's office, officials said. Passing any duties, like serving a warrant, to a constable would be an option of the sheriff, officials said.
Constable-elect William Ruf told the court he had already posted his bond at $10,000, and was in the process of looking into training.
After nearly 40 minutes of discussion Wednesday, Magistrate John Corlis made a motion to approve the option which would allow lights, sirens and radio use, with training, but the motion died for lack of a second.
A motion for a bond set at $10,000, without lights, sirens and radio use, was made by David Kelsch, seconded by Corlis and passed by an unanimous court vote.
The court action means the cost of insuring constables for Foster, Augusta West, Brooksville, Milford and Germantown will be $1,837.50 per year.
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