Constable training bill heads to Governor for signature

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A bill by two local lawmakers to institute improved training standards has passed both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly and has been sent to Governor Bill Haslam.

State Rep. Timothy Hill and State Sen. Rusty Crowe introduced legislation (HB2141/SB2054) which would set a minimum number of training hours required each year for elected constables in Tennessee.

The bill cleared its final hurdle last week when it passed the Senate. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Lt. Governor Randy McNally have already signed the bill. On April 26 it was transmitted to Haslam for his approval. Hill said there had been no indication that the Governor will not sign the bill into law.

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Constables are elected law enforcement officers who serve their local communities and have the same authority of arrest under state law as do sheriff’s deputies and police officers. Currently, state law requires that each constable complete 40 hours of in-service training within one year of their election to the post.

According to Hill, the current state law does not require any ongoing training for constables after they complete the initial 40 required hours.

Under Hill’s bill, state law would be changed to require constables to undergo a minimum of 40 hours of in-service training each year that they hold office.

The bill passed the House on Thursday by an overwhelming majority of 91 in favor, one opposed, and one passing on the vote.

Part of the debate in the Senate surrounding the bill was a desire to put in a provision that would exempt currently serving constables from the annual training requirement, according to Hill.

“It would in effect weaken the bill,” Hill said.

However, Hill said Crowe was able to work with the Senate to provide a partial exemption while still maintaining a high standard for training in the bill.

“There is a 20-year exemption now. If a constable has served for 20 or more years, they will be exempt from the training requirement,” Hill said. “They can still do the training if they want, and we hope they do.”