MOBILE, Ala.(WALA) – FOX10 News Reporter Renee Dials continues to investigate the controversial law enforcement group, constables.
As she told you last week in an exclusive report, some Mobile County Constables have felony convictions and at least one of those constables is still serving.
We’ve also learned that a lack of standardized training is also a serious concern.
There are about 90 constables in Mobile County. Leo Bullock talked to Renee Monday about their contribution to law enforcement. But, Bullock also said the lack of training issue is tarnishing the group’s service, and he believes approved training will weed out the bad apples, and restore public trust in the oldest law enforcement group in the state.
Bullock is a former Alabama State Trooper. He’s also the State Constable for Precinct 58, and Director of Security at McGill-Toolen Catholic School.
“Just the visible alone, men in uniform, a marked vehicle is your best deterrent against crime today,” Bullock said.
In addition to private security work, Bullock said constables serve civil papers in the county, direct school traffic, and many other important jobs that assist law enforcement.
“That frees up trained deputies to handle more serious type crimes,” he said.
But Bullock said good constables are getting a back rap because some among their ranks have criminal records, including Mario Yow.
“I was offered a plea at trial for probation,” Yow said.
Yow, pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine in February.
He was arrested the same year he was elected, 2012.
When we tracked Yow down we discovered he continues to patrol his community, and he said he plans to serve the remainder of his term.
“I’ve also been informed that if you do get a felony offense, that you have to be impeached, because it’s not like you can just be thrown out of office,” Yow said.
According to Bullock, the problems with constables come down to a lack of training. He’s said working through the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission would weed out the bad apples. So, why are some constables against it?
“We had some constables that didn’t want to go through that training, and I understand why they didn’t, and I’m going to say it today. They didn’t want to go through the training, because they’d have to go through a background check. That would have exposed some of this what the media is already pointing out. It would have eliminated them from being a constable,” he explained.
An email from Darrell Carter, the current President of the Mobile County Constable Association refers to a voluntary training academy started by the association this year.
But, Bullock said that training program does not meet the approval of APOSTC, which is responsible for training all other officers in the state.
“They were ordered by the Alabama Standards Training Commission to “cease and desist”. They were informed that under Alabama Law that APOSTC is the only agency to train law enforcement,” Bullock said.
Bullock has a new training bill ready to present during the next legislative session.
“But we don’t need constables out here that are not properly trained, accountable and we need constables that if you want to be a constable you’ve got to submit to a background check,” he said.
“And, I pray to the legislators to listen to us this time gentlemen, we need the legislation that we put in place passed,” Bullock said.
Bullock said the bill will be presented during the next regular session in 2015, or sooner if the governor calls a special session this year.
If you would like to read the letter from APOSTC to the Mobile County Constables Association about their “voluntary academy”, click Here.
We’ll keep updating you on our investigation.