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Court approves blue lights for constables

Clark County’s constables will be able to use blue emergency lights under certain circumstances, following a second vote by the Clark County Fiscal Court Wednesday.

The magistrates voted 5-2 to approve the second reading of the ordinance, which included a 147-page manual with standard operating procedures for constables.

According to the ordinance, constables will be allowed to use lights and sirens for traffic control and motor assist situations, but they will not respond to emergency calls.

“All the powers are given through the state and the constitution,” Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos said. “It clearly says in this manual we approved that they will not disregard traffic signals. They will not answer calls from dispatch. I think they’re doing a great job here by putting these policies in place.”

Under Kentucky law, constables are elected county officials with full police powers including authority to stop vehicles and make arrests. They are not required to complete the same training as police officers or sheriff’s deputies. In Clark County, the constables serve papers for the court system, among other duties.

Magistrate Travis Thompson, who works as a police officer for the Winchester Police Department, said allowing the constables to have blue lights is giving them additional authority. Driving through traffic signals while responding to calls is one of the most dangerous things officers do, he said.

Magistrate Robert Blanton was opposed to the ordinance on liability grounds.

“I’m of the opinion this does expose us to additional liability,” he said.

Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said he spoke with the county’s insurance carrier and was told allowing constables to have blue lights would have no effect on the county’s policies or coverage.

“They informed me as constitutional officers, our insurance already covers the constables,” Pace said, with no additional liability. “The question is whether it’s safer to have lights or not.”

“In my opinion, the word is necessary, not safer,” Blanton said.

The matter was approved on a 5-2 vote, with Blanton and Thompson voting no.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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