The Louisville Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee vote unanimously to put tighter restrictions on constables.
The move came after Jefferson County Constable David Whitlock shot an accused shoplifter in the arm and face. Questions have been raised about Whitlock’s use of force and his decision to deputize staff, which former Mayor Jerry Abramson did not allow.
The ordinance specifically prohibits constables from furnishing their vehicles with emergency equipment, wearing official badges or uniforms and appointing deputies without the mayor and council’s consent.
Councilman David James, D-6, sponsored the ordinance. He says the state-mandated position of constable is useless in a major city.
“In Jefferson County, we have absolutely no need for a constable to have peace officer powers, especially a peace officer with no training, and a gun and a badge is a very dangerous public safety issue,” he says.
Earlier this month, the council passed a non-binding measure requesting the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney investigate and possibly indict Whitlock for malfeasance.
The Metro Police Public Integrity Unit is currently investigating Whitlock’s use of force and the Commonwealth’s Attorney is waiting for a full report before deciding whether to bring charges against Whitlock.
James reiterated the legislation only addresses some needed regulations and that state lawmakers need to step in as well to help diminish the position.
“Mr. Whitlock still will have peace officer powers and so what the state or what the organizations are asking the state to do is remove peace officer from the position of constable and that will basically gut it statewide without having to do a constitutional amendment,” he says.