Recent legislation allows constables to receive training locally

Published 9:18 pm Thursday, March 31, 2022

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
Local constables can now receive in-service training and other educational programs through the East Tennessee Constables Association.
On March 11, Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that gives the association authority to provide the training.
“This is great news for constables across the state and especially here in East Tennessee where they can get their training and approval from a local organization,” said ETCA President and CEO Kent Harris.
Harris and District 7 Constable Ken Potter, who serves as chief training officer for ETCA, said “this will assure that each constable will receive quality training.”
Each constable must receive 40 hours of in-service training each calendar year, including range qualifications. Failure to complete the training is a misdemeanor punishable by a civil penalty and removal from office.
“We take training seriously and the law must be followed,” Harris said. “Good training keeps constables abreast of the changing laws and keeps them within the scope of the law. I think that we have the best from feedback we get.”
The ETCA was established in 2018 and the association has made great strides in getting laws established that have helped upgrade the position of constable.
Constables do not receive any money or benefits from the government. They bear all the expenses with the elected position including car, gas, uniforms, and other equipment.
Potter experienced firsthand the importance of constables when he served as Chief Deputy of Carter County which led him to run for the position he currently maintains in District 7.
“It was not unusual to go to a crime scene and find a constable already on the scene, often arriving quicker than responding deputies,” Potter said. “They would protect the scene, often leading to solving many of the crimes.”
He added that it is comforting to see a constable patrol car passing through neighborhoods around where the constables live.
Constables are classified as law enforcement officers under the law thanks to former State Rep. Tim Hill helping to get a law passed to define exactly what a constable was.
After the May 3 election, there will be a 40-hour in-service training class to benefit any newly elected constables and will be open for any constable to attend. All constables are required to complete 40 hours of in-service every 12 months in office according to SB2054-HB2141 passed on March 7, 2018.
Both Potter and Harris wanted to take time to acknowledge State Reps. Scotty Campbell and John Holtsclaw along with State Sen. Rusty Crowe for helping to get the law passed through both the House and Senate. There was only one vote cast against the law in either body.

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