WHITLEY CITY —
At press time, 10 out of 15 candidates for constable in Districts 1-4 submitted responses to The Record's questionnaire. They are edited slightly for space and published by district in order of receipt:
In District 1, Jeffrey Tucker of Whitley City is a Republican candidate who has been a truck driver for 15 years. Tucker is a 1989 McCreary Central graduate with one son. Dustin D. Ridner of Parkers Lake is also a Republican candidate. He studied Criminal Justice at Somerset Community College and has been a supervisor at Bluegrass/Oakwood for the last eight years.
In District 2, Brad Waters of Stearns is a Republican candidate with many years experience in local law enforcement, both as deputy and constable. The honorably discharged veteran also has 400 hours worth of training with the police academy. Republican incumbent Freddie Clark of Smithtown graduated with honor from the Dept. of Criminal Justice academy in 1999. He also served as a deputy under three sheriffs.
In District 3, Jason Jones of Strunk works at NAPA Auto Parts. The Republican candidate has taken several Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement college classes. Democrat Tim Dixon of Stearns is a husband and father of two. He has worked with Scott Solid Waste for 15 years.
In District 4, Republican David M. Kilby of Pine Knot has been Constable for the past seven years and also provides traffic control at Pine Knot Primary School as school safety officer. Jack Lay, a Republican from Pine Knot, has eight years experience as a special local peace officer. Charles Lee Perry, a Republican from Pine Knot, is currently serving as a transport officer. A former deputy sheriff, he has completed several law enforcement classes with a 4.0 GPA. Lewis Ball Sr. a Democrat from Ned Ridge, states he is "qualified, experienced and willing to do" the job as a constable in District 4.
Some groups have called for the elimination of Constable as an elected office. Why does your district need a Constable?
TUCKER: I think that constables are a valuable asset to their district because they know their district and they know what their district needs and wants and because they can take care of the smaller problems while the sheriff’s dept. and state police take care of the more serious problems. Which due to funds and limited deputies help them to be able to take care of more serious problems and not be tied up on smaller things enabling them to do a better job on serving the people of the county when in need of assistance.
RIDNER: I feel that my district needs a constable because of the shortage of law enforcement. Like many other parts of our county, my district does have some areas that are further away from emergency responders, so it does slow down response time for emergency personnel, but with good working constables in each of our districts our community would feel safer knowing if needed there would be a law enforcement officer close to respond.
WATERS: I think it would be a bad mistake to do away with constables because we don’t have enough officers to patrol.
CLARK: My district is much larger in area, alot of rough terrain areas, many woods and hills and backroads to patrol. I don’t know why some groups would be wanting to abolish this position. In reality and my opinion the more law we have - any officer that will do their jobs and work - would help make our county a little safer. I just wish the legislators in Frankfort would get wise and realize this position is part of our KY Constitution. Just like the sheriff is elected into his position so are we, even though KY laws don’t require the sheriff to be trained either, same as the constable position. I believe they need to change that standard and require both positions to receive training to help become a better officer for those positions in law. The idea of call for the elimination of constables, I have been told by an official in law stating this idea is ridiculous and has stopped in its tracks. Most officials in the political field knows attempting to rewrite the law to remove an elected position is better left alone and not discussed.
JONES: A constable provides the community with law enforcement, and personal feeling of security which every citizen needs and deserves. This being in assistance with the Sheriff’s Dept.
DIXON: The Kentucky Constitution states that constables shall possess the qualifications as sheriffs and their jurisdictions. Shall be coextensive with the counties in which they reside. So eliminating constables would mean rewriting the constitution. I don't see why any state would look at eliminating constables when counties can have a law enforcement officer elected for each district that can provide so much more law enforcement for the citizens if they are willing to be a working constable.
KILBY: The people that are trying to eliminate the constable positions do not live in rural communities where the police force is small. The sheriff’s office does the best that they can but there are times when they cannot respond to all the needs of a community. Constables provide the extra needed support and man power for the county and the state law enforcement. I have worked with the sheriff’s office and the state police upon their request. I have a good working relationship with both entities. The people of my district know that they can rely on me to perform my duties whenever I am called to do so.
LAY: Because we don’t have enough law officers to patrol the county.
PERRY: I cannot answer for other counties, but with the overwhelming problem with drugs, robberies, home invasions, and church vandalism in this county (having less then the minimal law enforcement coverage), I would have to reverse the question and ask why does my district as well as the other three districts not need a constable?
BALL: District 4 should have a local contact person that can respond to the needs of the people within their district. In cases of emergency or a disaster their constable should be a resource person that can provide assistance.
What area and/or duty would receive your highest priority given the limited resources available to constables? Why?
TUCKER: Daily routine patrols of churches and cemeteries in my district and throughout my district to assist in Community Watch to make it a safer place for the kids and everybody in the community. To help and assist local law enforcement on crime and drug problem in the county and in any way possible that they need assistance with. To be a working friend and neighbor to the people in my district. Because I enjoy helping people in their time of need. I want to be active in the community and talk with and be a friend of the people in my district to help and assist them with any thing they need help with. The main thing would be to make a clean, safe community for our kids, and my neighbors and friends.
RIDNER: The duty that would receive my highest priority given the limited resources available to constables would be to protect our citizens especially the elderly and children our most vulnerable citizens. I feel the best way to do my best in fulfilling that duty would be to answer every call possible and reassure citizens that if law enforcement is needed I would respond. Work with EMS and assist any time they feel you are needed. Protecting and serving our citizens should be our top priority they are the ones who elect and put faith in you to serve and protect so protecting and serving them should always be your #1 priority. I would do my best to serve all of district 1 and determine what areas I may be needed or my presence as constable may be needed more in order to serve my community best. I would seek any available grants, or resources to assist me in being a better constable for my community.
WATERS: Priority would be 2nd District as I always have.
CLARK: I consider all the areas of my district 2 to be important. I take pride in being able to patrol our district, its beauty and the good people who live in it. It is an honor to help protect and serve the people, though our district is large in size, when I am patrolling I normally break down my patrols in segments, to cover at that moment, unless I am called away to another location in my district on a complaint.
JONES: The highest priority is safety for every household. The importance of having someone to call, for protection or service, when you feel there may be a need or danger.
DIXON: It would be my priority to be a working constable not just six months of the fourth year, but all four years working with all local law enforcement and taking all training available through the constable association and any other training available to better serve the people of my district. It would be my highest priority for the citizens of my district to know that they would have a constable patrolling their area and that they can call at any time. Someone willing to fight the battle against drugs and to stop the burglary and theft problems we face.
KILBY: The highest priority for me is meeting the needs of the people my district and keeping them safe. For the past 7 years, I have responded to all calls I have personally received from the citizens of the county, no matter given to the degree of the problem nor the time of day. I am a patient, calm and even tempered person with good judgement when it comes to dealing with many different kinds of people. Those that I have encountered in my duties as a Constable have been treated with the dignity and respect that I feel everyone should be given. There are many times that I have been called by the people of my district to assist when county and state law enforcement are not immediately available or when the situation does not warrant emergency assistance.
LAY: I would take care of my district first. To keep law and order and watch the back roads, because we don’t have enough officers.
PERRY: This is actually a hard question for me. I don't like to label anything as "priority." I feel anything I may get a call for is important, and will be treated as such. I will patrol the higher criminally active areas more often to try to prevent and hopefully after a while stop the crime in those areas.
BALL: The immediate needs of the voters in that district.
Discuss your thoughts on any other matter relevant to being constable such as use of blue lights, collecting fees for serving legal documents, etc.
TUCKER: Being an elected peace officer I agree with constables, being able to run blue lights and collecting fees for serving legal documents due to the dangers of the job and low pay they receive for doing their jobs.
RIDNER: My thoughts on collecting fees for serving legal documents are that the money a constable receives could be put into an account and be used for gas or other expenses for the constable to do his job.
WATERS: Blue lights always needed and treat the people honorably. When they call I go to them and be respectful.
CLARK: How can a constable help serve and protect the people who vote and elect him into a position to enforce the law, if we were not able to use lights and siren in emergency situations? I myself work many various complaints that require the use of these devices when the time is needed for their purpsose. I use them and show due regard to the public, and I don’t abuse the performance of these important tools needed for law. My position is no different that a sheriff or his deputies. I believe these devices area a strong part of my performance to be able to utilize, to better serve the people of District 2. I myself do serve numerous documents for the Commonwealth from various offices within our county and other attorney offices from outside our county. These fees help me to function in my capacity as Constable — buying fuel, and the maintenance repairs to my cruiser to better serve the people of my district.
JONES: The blue light distinguishes the vehicle as a law enforcement vehicle. Collecting fees is an important part financially. It also shows integrity and proper respect in serving of valuable papers.
DIXON: I wouldn't think of any law enforcement officer doing traffic stops or responding to any call without the use of blue lights, for their safety and the safety of citizens. I would work hard to serve legal documents for the Commonwealth and using fees collected for doing so to boost my limited resources so I could better serve my area.
KILBY: Constables are law enforcement officers and have the same arrest powers as the county sheriff’s officials. Blue lights are necessary to ensure safety and quick response to many different situations.
LAY: I think blue lights are necessary at times and I think a constable should be paid for serving papers because he is putting his life on the line.
PERRY: A Constable is an officer of the law just as much as a deputy. They are just more likely to be able to respond to a call or stop a drunk driver quicker in their district. Again, I would have to reverse it and ask why would a constable not need blue lights? A constable earns a very, very small salary, so collecting fees for serving legal documents, etc. should be understandable, considering it would help to serve the district better by providing the resources needed, such as gas etc. (yearly gas budget of only $500). The fees are going to be collected for serving them whether it be by a constable or other law enforcement.
BALL: The presence of a constable within the district can help residents of the district feel more secure that someone is there if they need assistance.