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Center Township constable says officer impersonation arrest led to court confrontation

Center Township constable explains township court arrests

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Center Township constable said Monday’s confrontation resulted from a court employee serving papers without authorization.

Constable Denise Paul Hatch’s comments to News 8 mark the first time she has spoken publicly about Monday’s incident at the Center Township government offices. She said she has evidence court manager Richard Watson was serving papers and collecting fees despite not being authorized to do so.

“By statute, my fees are collected through the judge. He is also collecting my fees as a constable,” Hatch said. “The judge is actually taking my fees and giving it to this person who is not even deputized.”

On Monday morning, Hatch and her deputies arrested Watson outside the township courtroom for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Deputy Koffi Ametooyona said he made the arrest, at which point a number of township employees, including Center Township Chief of Operations Marcus Harden, surrounded them. Deputy constables arrested Harden after he got into an argument with them.

The deputy constables then took the arrestees to the Marion County jail, where sheriff’s deputies refused to let them in. Ametooyona said the jail staff never told them why they weren’t allowed to bring them in. Watson and Harden were eventually returned to the township offices and court records show they don’t face any charges. The Trustee’s office said in a brief statement on Monday she remains confident neither Watson nor Harden broke any laws.

Center Township Judge Brenda Roper issued an emergency order on Oct. 17 declaring Hatch unable to perform the duties of constable, citing Hatch’s public comments a few days earlier. In a statement to News 8, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said, “The Sheriff must ensure that all those being transported to the Adult Detention Center have been legally apprehended by those who have the lawful authority to make arrests.” The statement noted the sheriff’s office had received a copy of Roper’s order.

The order is public record, but Hatch said she was never served with a copy, and never saw it until Nov. 1. Hatch said she had told Roper it was not safe for her deputies to serve eviction notices without access to Marion County’s police radio network. Her office lost access in October after one of her deputies was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. She said her office was able to resume service this week after it regained partial access to the radio network. Hatch called the judge’s order premature.

Roper did not return multiple calls seeking comment for this story. Both the sheriff’s office and the trustee’s office said they will not comment further on the matter.