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By DAMON LAWRENCE
The decision on whether to abolish the office of constable in Roane County could rest with the people.
At least that’s the way one legislator would like to see it.
“I’ve advised the commission of this,” state Sen. Ken Yager said. “Since we are talking about elected officials, we are looking into the possibility of having a ratification by the people in the next election. That is something that’s been looked at.”
Upon the request of the county commission, Yager and state Rep. Dennis Ferguson introduced a bill in the General Assembly this year that would allow the county commission to abolish or remove law enforcement powers from the office of constable.
The commission requested the same thing of its legislators during the 2008 session — before Yager was elected — but were never given the authority to abolish the office.
Commissioner James Harmon once argued that the county commission was disenfranchised by not being able to eliminate constables.
Yager and Ferguson were both noncommittal when asked if the commission should have that authority.
“That’s their decision,” Ferguson said.
Yager echoed Ferguson.
“Under the law, they have the right to ask for it, and they’ve asked for it,” he said.
Local officials became weary over the position because of the controversy surrounding 6th District Constable Mark Patton.
District Attorney General Russell Johnson and County Attorney Tom McFarland filed an ouster suit against Patton in January.
They allege he’s engaged in a harassment and intimidation campaign against residents, elected officials and local law enforcement.
Patton was indicted in February on two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of official misconduct.
Yager and Ferguson have sponsored another bill regarding constables.
This one would require constables to take 40 hours of training each year with either the Tennessee Constable Association or Tennessee Constable Council.