Constables unjustly criticized

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

I would like to take this time to address an ongoing argument concerning the office of constable in Pike County.

All of a sudden our sheriff and now several commissioners have decided that we no longer need constables. The office has been in existence in British Common Law since 1066 AD and in America since 1634, when Joshua Pratt was sworn in the Plymouth Colony.

Over these past years there have been constables who served with dignity and honor and those who did not. Like any organization this office has had its problems just like police departments, sheriff’s departments and even the FBI has had bad officers. But for a county commissioner a county leader to label a constable a "vigilante" solely on the basis of not being post certified "Peace Officers Standards and Training" is not only ludicrous, but is a slap in the face to every constable and sheriff and many earlier deputies who have ever risked their lives in the line of duty.

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This kind of comment is not only disgraceful, but he ought to be ashamed. The definition of vigilante is "being a member of a vigilance committee," further definition is "a self appointed and unauthorized" group of citizens to maintain order and punish criminals in a community where law enforcement is imperfectly or insufficiently organized.

We as constables are neither "self appointed" nor "unauthorized." When I was approached about running for office it was to fill in where there was a lack of coverage. I agreed to put my name on the ballot and see what happened. I did not politic or ask for votes. I received 56 percent of the votes cast in my precinct. To those people I say thank you. I will not betray your trust.

My office was authorized by an oath of office and a commission by the State of Alabama and signed by Governor Siegelman. Each of these I take very seriously and hold in sacred trust. As to the petition that my constituents drew up and circulated around in an effort to draw attention to the plight of the office of constable, I say thank you for your effort.

This petition simply stated, "We the residents, friends and family of residents protest the dismissal of the constable. There was no claim of being all residents all voters or all adults. The commissioner made disdainful comments about some being teenagers and not being able to vote. Are the only people he is interested in hearing from, have to be voters. Don’t our young peoples opinions count. If you think about it, this could be the reason many of them don’t vote and don’t take an active part in our political process. Maybe they already know that our leaders aren’t listening and don’t care. Well not to worry Mr. Commissioner most of those young folks are seniors 17 and 18 years old. They will be able to vote real soon. To the people of Pike County I say thank you for your support and whatever you decide at the polls let it come from knowledge of the truth. Don’t be led down the wrong road by half-truths and false innuendo.

Constable John Sanders Jr.

Precinct 5 Pike County


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