Carter County constables complete annual training

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Constables in Carter County have a long tradition of service to the community and the current group of constables is working hard to continue that legacy.
Last week the constables who serve Carter County finished up their annual training. Over the course of seven evenings and one Saturday afternoon, the constables attended classes dealing with a wide variety of law enforcement issues. Some of the topics covered this year included, proper search and seizure procedures; 4th Amendment Criminal Law; building searches; traffic stops; officer safety; emergency vehicle operations; mental illness; child sexual abuse; field sobriety testing; drugs; methamphetamine labs; ethics in law enforcement; use of force; death investigations; interview and interrogation; criminal investigations; evidence collection; blood stain pattern analysis; and active shooter scenarios. The training also included 8 hours of classroom and range time in firearms instruction.
“We’ve had some of the best classes we’ve ever had,” said Constable Ken Potter, one of the instructors and organizers for the training event. “We had some excellent instructors,” Potter said of his fellow teachers.
Instructors for the constable training this year included: Potter, who before becoming a constable was a former chief of police and criminal investigator; local attorney James Bowman; Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Eddie Tester; retired THP Trooper Carroll Glover; retired narcotics officer David Walker; and retired detective Jim Lengel.
“I loved it,” said Constable Harvey Shaffer. “It’s been about the best class we’ve ever had.”
Under state law, newly elected constables are required to attend 40 hours of training during their first year. Every year after, the constable is required by law to attend additional training to maintain their certification.
Unlike their officers who work with an agency such as the Carter County Sheriff’s Office or the Elizabethton Police Department, constables are law enforcement officers who are elected by the citizens in their community. Each of Carter County’s eight districts elects two constables to serve their district every four years.
While they are elected officials and their training requirements differ from law enforcement officers employed by a government agency, Potter said constables are granted the same legal authority, including the power of arrest, under state law.
In Tennessee, constables are officers of the Tennessee Judicial System as prescribed by the State Constitution. Constables are sworn and bonded peace officers with full powers of arrest under state law and they are charged with the duties of keeping the peace and the enforcement of the laws of the state, county and its cities.
During the most recent legislative session, Potter said State Rep. Timothy Hill, who represents part of Carter County, sponsored legislation that helped to clear up the duties and rights of constables under state law. That bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam in April, greatly assisted the state’s constables, Potter said, adding that Hill has been “a great friend” to the constables in assisting them with needed legislation.
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 Ken Potter and Mark Watson; and 8th District Bob Carroll and Ryan Presnell.

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