Editorial submitted by Conrad Doyle
Have you ever wondered why we have positions in our law enforcement departments that are filled by an elected individual that rarely, if ever, draws pay for whatever it is they do? Well obviously our Sheriff's are elected to their positions after many a bitter,contentious and expensive political battle. But what about our constables? Why are they elected and what exactly are the elected to do? They do not actually campaign or even have a political platform. No speeches, no promises to clean up the law enforcement system. No promises to end favoritism within the department. No promise to seek out evil and wrong doers. Not one speech about cleaning up corruption. So, why then do we have Constables, and what, if anything, do they bring to the community in which they live and serve? I once knew a guy that while extremely successful in his chosen profession, wanted to be a constable because as he said "my community made me the success that I am today so I want to become a constable to give back, as a sign of my appreciation". Knowing him as I did, I knew the real reason behind his desire and while it was not exactly the most noble of reasons, he did believe he was "serving" the people of his hometown. It was mildly entertaining to those around him to watch as he described experiences during which he was afforded the opportunity to flip on his lights and accelerate his speed in "hot pursuit" of a speeding or suspicious vehicle. On more than one occasion, his wife could be heard saying in a hushed tone "most men when they reach that stage in life go out and buy a Corvette or some other sports car when their testosterone levels start whispering ...you are not the man...But not mine. No, he went out and bought blue lights, hand gun holster and a cowboy hat with a law enforcement insignia strategically placed so the world could see from a mile away.” It did provide numerous opportunities to bust a gut laughing when he would be walking towards us and right on cue we would all start singing "bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?" We laughed long and loud! Eventually, like all good things, the fun came to an end when he was chastised for "over-stepping" his boundaries. Seems that while legally he could assist in, and if necessary, place a criminal under arrest and cuff them. This "service to his community" did not actually include such duties and "real" law enforcement officers did not want his assistance in the apprehension of a suspect. So, what then is the purpose of having or electing constables? In a 2019 document titled: Duties of Elected County Officials, A 1975 Judicial Article established District Courts, the main function of the constable was to render service to the old justice courts. Today, constables are defined as peace officers and possess the same law enforcement powers as sheriffs, coroners, and jailers, and are eligible for the same police training provided to other peace officers. What happens when one of our local constables wakes to find himself being arrested for sexual abuse of a child under the age of twelve? How long does he stay in the detention facility before being able to post bail and return to fulfilling his responsibilities? If the Meade County Constable was arrested back in Sept. of 2019, why has the position remained open, why has the Judge Executive not appointed another citizen to finish out the term?