Obion Co. Considering Limiting Constables’ Power

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A push by a West Tennessee county to limit who can and can not arrest you for breaking the law is causing controversy. And some Obion County leaders wanted to take law enforcement power away from their constables because they said they were a liability to the county’s taxpayers, but the constables do not agree. The County Technical Assistance Service continued to urge counties in West Tennessee to consider the liability their constables caused them. Officials said under Tennessee state law they have to complete 40 hours of in-service education courses each year. Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder said his officers take the same classes to stay current with the law and their handgun certification. Which, county officials said the constables were not doing. But constable John Davis, said he did not see why they would continue to go to the same class year after year. “We’re still doing our job. If they’re not liable for us now and they tell us we can’t carry a gun, do they not think they’re putting some liability on themselves?” Sheriff Vastbinder said any elected constable would still have the right to carry a gun, even if they could not make arrests. County Commissioner Jerry Grady said they would not have pushed to limit the power of the constables if they would have abided by the in-service guidelines, because not doing so put the county and taxpayers at risk.

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