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Stricter requirements proposed for future constable candidates

Washington County constables want to raise the bar related to qualifications required to hold the office.
A letter with the endorsement of all nine current constables was presented during the June 11 meeting of the Washington County Public Safety Committee.
“I see it as protection for the county,” Constable Mark Bacon said at the meeting.
According to the letter, the constables “believe a constable should have had at least one year of prior law enforcement experience and/or is a P.O.S.T. certified officer and has successfully passed a psychological evaluation as prescribed by Tennessee P.O.S.T. Rules before submitting his/her name for the office of constable. Candidates would be personally responsible for any cost incurred for the required certification and psychological evaluation.”
The approximate cost of the evaluation is $400, Bacon said.
“I agree about the evaluation, but I think it would rule out the number who could run if they need a year of experience,” Commissioner Sam Humphreys said.
Commissioner and former constable Mike Ford said the requirement would “separate the wheat from the chaff,” but Humphreys argued training should be able to take place after taking office.
“Do you think it’s unreasonable to ask for one year of experience, sheriff?” Ford asked Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal, who was in attendance.
“Any time you can up the qualifications, it’s good,” Graybeal said.
However, he suggested the committee ask County Attorney John Rambo to research possible conflicts such a requirement might have with state code.
The letter indicates the Sevier County Commission has passed a resolution requesting the Tennessee Legislature adopt a private act to establish such requirements for candidates to be eligible to seek the office of constable there.
The constables of Sevier County have offered to have constables of other Tennessee counties added to this resolution by amendment.
The nine constables now holding office in Washington County would be grandfathered in under the current requirements, and there would be no cost for the amendment to the Sevier County resolution.
Ford made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Pete Speropulos, to table the decision and hear from Rambo on the subject during the July committee meeting.