Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Public Safety Panel Puts Tighter Control on Constables

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.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Meets With Chief Over Constable Shooting

The Louisville Metro Council is discussing ways to restrict the power currently held by local constables after a controversial shooting raised questions about the positions usefulness.

Three council members met with Chief Robert White Thursday to talk about the recent use of force by Jefferson County Constable David Whitlock, who was first elected to the position in 2007.

Last week, Whitlock shot a woman accused of shoplifting at a Walmart in the arm and face. Whitclock claims Tammie Ortiz ran over his foot with her car, but her attorney denies she stole anything and says Whitlock never identified himself as an officer.

The controversy has renewed a debate about the 150-year-old elected post, which is a state constitutional office that gives three constables in Jefferson County certain law enforcement powers, including writing parking tickets, executing warrants and making traffic stops.

However, critics point out that constables are not required to undergo any police training in order to hold the position.

Councilman David James, D-6, is a former Louisville police officer who currently serves as a lieutenant with University of Louisville police. He met with Chief White and says having an elected official without proper training acting as a law enforcement agent poses a danger to the community.

“In Jefferson County, I feel it is a problem. We have a person that has a badge and a gun and absolutely no training. And I consider that a public safety issue,” he says.