Gov. Kay Ivey signed a proclamation Thursday honoring Alabama constables and declaring July 15 “Constable Day” in the state.
Across the street at the Statehouse, two days prior, the Talladega local legislation committee had voted to abolish constables in the county.
Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore had pitched the idea of removing the office of constable to the Talladega County Commission in 2021, and the commission initially approved the request, but rescinded the vote at the behest of the chairman due to no constable being present to present an opposing side.
Kilgore reintroduced the request at a commission work session held on March 13, 2023, asking the commission to pass a resolution in support of a bill to abolish the office of constable.
According to minutes from the March 27 meeting of the commission, Kilgore cited the lack of required training and lack of supervision as a liability issue for the county. Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade and St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray, whose counties have both abolished the constables, spoke in support of Sheriff Kilgore’s proposed legislative bill.
A public hearing was held on the bill, HB332 by Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Talladega, Thursday with Kilgore restating his reasons for making the request while constables Angel Middleton and Gene Piatkowski spoke in opposition to the bill, noting that constables are not paid by public monies, although they are eligible for the state and federal “line of duty death benefits.” Constables are also elected under Alabama law and are the only other law enforcement position to be elected outside of sheriffs.
On the issue of training, Piatkowski said many constables are retired law enforcement, although some constables are simple people who want to help their community. Training requirements are being considered by the National Constables and Marshal Association, Piatkowski added.
Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, spoke on the value of constables during his time as a police chief.
The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor Tuesday.