Constables have been around since our country’s Colonial days. They’re still around in some states, including Tennessee. Although their primary responsibility in most counties is to serve civil warrants, Tennessee constables have the same authority under the Tennessee judicial system as other law enforcement officers, including the ability to make arrests.
One Carter County constable summed up the wide variety of responsibilities constables may be called on to carry out this way: “They serve papers, make arrests, work schools, whatever the job description for law enforcement calls for, they can do. They are not limited. They can do it all.” A Sullivan County constable noted that they can also make traffic stops and investigate vehicle crashes and other crimes.
Constables are elected by the citizens in their counties. The number of constables in each county varies. Local law enforcement agencies count on them primarily to help with things like serving warrants and protective orders, which free up their officers for other duties.
However, as noted, they have the authority to do anything that other officers can do. They’re required by state law to undergo regular training, including time practicing on a shooting range.
If you encounter a Tennessee constable, it’s important to treat that person as you would any other law enforcement officer and understand that they’re within their rights under the law to stop you in your vehicle and even arrest you if they have cause to.
Failing to obey a constable’s orders could create more legal problems for you. If you are arrested by a constable, it’s essential to take the matter seriously and seek the guidance of a Tennessee criminal defense attorney.