Law enforcement officials who abuse their power are a constant source of struggle, especially at the local and state level. Now, Alabama’s oldest law enforcement agency is under scrutiny and could face a total overhaul. The Constables Association is being investigated for growing concerns regarding a number of constables with arrest records in Mobile County.
The arrest of one Constables for murder in July only fanned the flames concerning the agency.
According to Fox10 News reports, many constables in Alabama have criminal records and little or no training. There is also no agency or commission in Alabama charged with the oversight of these elected law enforcement officers. Even after pleading guilty to trafficking cocaine, one constable was still acting Constable for Precinct, 34 months after his conviction. Even the head of Alabama Peace Officer’s Standards and Training Commission (APOST) voiced concern there are convicted felons making police stops. According to constable defense statements, they are elected officials and have to be impeached. They simply cannot be thrown out of office for a felony conviction.
This may be about to change. Law enforcement officials are given authority and power to enforce the law. What happens when they themselves do not abide? According to other law enforcement authorities, constables should be forced to vacate an office immediately upon conviction. In fact, Alabama law already prohibits any convicted felons from becoming law enforcement officers. So why should a constable continue in his post, even as a convicted drug trafficker?
Under current Alabama law, the constables are not under APOST supervision or oversight. Except for this agency, every other law enforcement officer and deputy must be certified by the APOST. Fox10 News investigators uncovered more than a few constables who have been accused of crimes, ranging from DUI to drug trafficking. Given current law for constables, none of the offenders were forced to resign or take leave. Because they are officials in an elected position, the law would require some kind of public impeachment process. Not only are those convicted of crimes able to continue in their positions, but it background checks are not even mandatory before they are sworn in. One constable admitted that though they are not all convicted felons, it is likely that something on their background would eliminate them from holding a public office.
Even members of the constable agency admit that there is not enough oversight. The constables need more training, oversight, and mandatory background checks. The media has finally exposed the reality that many of the constables are not fit for a law enforcement position. For all other APOST certified positions, applicants would be disqualified for pending criminal charges, probation, or felonies. Even misdemeanors could disqualify candidates for other law enforcement training, including domestic violence.
This alleged corruption in the constable agency is a reminder that you do not always know who you are dealing with when arrested or charged. Our Birmingham criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to protect the rights of individuals throughout the state of Alabama.