48 constables complete required annual training
Published 10:46 am Monday, November 13, 2023
BY ROBERT SORRELL
Four dozen local constables recently completed required training at the courthouse in Morristown.
Each year, the East Tennessee Constables Association welcomes constables from around the region for in-service training.
Tennessee law requires constables to complete 40 hours of in-service course time for each 12-month period during which a constable holds office, beginning on the date he or she is sworn into office.
Kent Harris, a Sullivan County constable and president of the association, said 48 constables participated in the recent training session, which was described as a “great” and “successful” event.
Chief Training Officer Ken Potter, who serves as a constable in Carter County, said numerous topics were taught, including child abuse, domestic violence, officer survival, use of force, de-escalation of force, active shooter, civil and criminal process serving, courtroom testimony, interview and interrogation, firearms and safe handling and terrorism.
The topics were well taught by Potter, Harris said. In addition, Attorney Eric Reach, Jerry Stout and Billy Harrell taught classes.
In addition, the association recognized several individuals who participated and supported the event, Harris said.
Hamblen County Sheriff Chad Mullins was recognized as the sheriff of the year and Greene County Constable Freddie Sams was named constable of the year.
Truman Coffey, a Grainger County constable, was awarded the leadership award and Reach, the attorney, was given the instructor of the year award.
Several state representatives were also present at the event, including David Hawk, Timothy Hill, Rick Eldridge and Jeremy Faizon. The association named Hawk the representative of the year.
The Elizabethton Star was named the newspaper of the year and Robert Sorrell was named journalist of the year, according to the association.
After the event, Harris noted that one of the biggest issues that constables have today is that many people do not understand the elected official’s job.
In Tennessee, constables are sworn, bonded, conservators of the peace and are vested with all the power and authority belonging to the office of constable by common law. Constables have full powers of arrest and are charged with keeping the peace and the enforcement of the laws of the state, county and its cities, according to Tennessee law.
Basically, constables have the same powers as all other law enforcement officers.
The Tennessee Constables Association says constables provide civil and criminal process service, respond to 911 emergencies, home security checks, patrol, traffic enforcement, business and church security checks and assist deputies, officers and state troopers.
In Carter County, two constables are elected in each district for a total of 16. In Sullivan County, where Harris lives, there are 24 constables.
Every county in Northeast Tennessee has constables. Just across the state line, North Carolina does not have constables. That state abolished constables in the 1960s.
Training, Potter said, is one of the most important duties of a constable’s position. The local association is now preparing for next year’s event.
Harris said any constable in the region can join the ETCA. Call Harris at 423-335-3775 for more information.