Constables give time, money to serve the community

Published 1:46 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State for the long history its residents have of answering the call to service.

That tradition carries on today, not only through military service, but service to the community as well.

Among those who serve local communities are the 16 constables elected to serve the eight districts of Carter County.

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Constables are sworn and bonded peace officers with full powers of arrest under state law. They are authorized under the Tennessee Constitution and are charged with keeping the peace as well as enforcing state and local laws.

And, they do it on a volunteer basis.

Because constables are elected and do not work within the sheriff’s department or police department, they must buy their uniforms, equipment, cruisers and fuel at their own expense. The law enforcement officers must also complete 40 hours of state certification training each year, and that expense is also shouldered by the constables.

“We love to do it,” said Constable Mark Carrier, who serves as president of the Carter County Constable Association. “You don’t take the job for money.”

“Everything we do is for the betterment of our county and the community we serve,” he added.

Serving the community can take many forms, Carrier said. Sometimes it means watching for reckless drivers in a neighborhood or investigating reports of suspicious activity. But can also be checking on someone’s house or business while they are out of town or serving an arrest warrant.

Often, members of the community will contact the constables, seeking information or looking to provide information to law enforcement, Constable Tim Lyons said.

“There are people all over the county who will call us,” Lyons said, adding part of the reason is because the constables know their own communities so well. “We get out on the rural roads,” he said.

The constables often find themselves working alongside their counterparts at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department or Elizabethton Police Department.

“We’ve got a great working relationship with all the deputies and the city officers,” Constable Harvey said. “We’ll back up anyone on their calls.”

Whatever the duty of the day is, it is done with a servant’s heart.

“I enjoy helping the county and providing a service to my community,” said Lyons.

It is all about giving back to the community, Shaffer said. “What would this country be without volunteers?”

Carter County’s elected constables are: 1st District Landon Pritchard and Larry Perry; 2nd District Leonard Johnson and Barney Brown; 3rd District James Bowers and Scott Whaley; 4th District Tim Lyons and Harvey Shaffer; 5th District Mark Carrier and Larry Presnell; 6th District John Henson and Bobby Trivette; 7th District Seth Babb and Mark Watson; and 8th District Bob Carroll and Ryan Presnell.