Constables ‘not subject to control’

Published 1:56 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The recent news regarding mysterious traffic stops has further development as of Tuesday.

According to statements, on April 8 Kentucky State Police began conducting an investigation in Bell County in which an individual was pulled over by two unmarked vehicles less than one mile apart on U.S. 25E.

A press release stated that the investigation indicated a female was traveling on U.S. 25E when an unmarked green SUV pulled her over. A male wearing a red Carhartt jacket with a badge around his neck allegedly approached the vehicle and stated that she was speeding but never asked for any paper work. The male then advised her to slow down and let her go.

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The release continues to say that the victim stated that less than one mile later, she was stopped again by a navy blue SUV. This time a male individual allegedly approached the vehicle and asked for her license. This unknown person wasn’t wearing a badge anywhere visible. He began screaming at her and hitting her window. The victim stated she was calling state police and this individual ran back to his vehicle and left.

On April 8, KSP Post 10 Harlan located an individual allegedly involved in at least one of the incidents. KSP Trooper George Howard located and interviewed Constable Jeffrey Bowling from Middlesboro. Bowling stated he made a traffic stop on the alleged victim. Bowling is an elected official in Bell County and receives the authority to equip his vehicle with blue lights from the Bell County Fiscal Court.

On April 10, WRIL shared a Facebook post from a young woman who was allegedly pulled over by an unmarked car with lights across the dash. The individual claimed that the man who stepped out of the unmarked vehicle approached her and told her to roll down her window, which she refused unless the man verified he was a police officer. If he did not, she would call county officers. The woman then stated the man simply got in his car and left after that.

As of this time there is no indication at all that a constable is in any way responsible for two out of the three reported incidents.

During the April 10 Bell County Fiscal Court meeting, Judge-Executive Albey Brock spoke to the ongoing situation, especially about the powers afforded to a constable.

“First, the constable is an elected official just like myself, the county clerk, the sheriff, the jailer, magistrates, the county attorney. They have their own constitutional authority. They are not subject to control by the fiscal court, or the county judge or the sheriff for that matter. The issue of blue lights was brought up. In the 12 plus years I have been here this court has never been asked or been petitioned for any constable to have blue lights. They never asked. I’m not going to say we would not have granted them permission. That would have been up to the court with consultation with the sheriff. But that has not taken place. We have not given any of them permission to have blue lights, though they are entitled to them…so don’t be confused, please, that we can somehow dictate or control their behavior. We can’t,” said Brock.

Brock also stated that he is aware of the fear these incidents have caused.

“It appears that whoever is doing this that isn’t the constable, is pulling over females. That makes this a serious issue because it’s continuing to happen. There is somebody out there that has a problem. Ultimately I have faith in law enforcement,” he said. “They’ll catch him.”