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Deputies rebuff constable’s attempt to arrest Marion County township employees

Deputies rebuff constable’s attempt to arrest Marion County township employees

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Leaders in Marion County’s Center Township leaders are remaining tight-lipped after a “disturbance” in which the embattled constable tried to arrest two employees.

Center Township Trustee LaDonna Freeman’s office said Constable Denise Paul Hatch tried to detain a township employee and an employee of the small claims court on Monday morning. A statement from Freeman’s office said it happened after Hatch “caused a disturbance with court staff.” Officials said Marion County deputies refused to take the two employees into custody and returned them to the township offices at the Julia M. Carson Government Center on Fall Creek Parkway.

This is not the first controversy surrounding Hatch, who took office on Jan. 1 after being elected last November. In May, Hatch faced a contempt of court charge after she confronted an Indianapolis police officer who was providing security during an eviction. Then, on Oct. 17, citing public comments by Hatch a few days earlier, Judge Brenda Roper issued an emergency order declaring Hatch unable to perform her duties and directing the constables of the other eight townships in Marion County to perform her duties in her stead. The order remains in effect until further notice.

Constables occupy an unusual position in law enforcement in Indiana. An elected position, constables serve as officers of the court for a small claims court if one is established at the township level. Marion County is the only county in Indiana with township small claims courts and thus the only county with constables. Their duties typically involve serving papers for small claims courts but state law also grants them arrest powers. Constables are statutorily exempt from the licensing and regulations other law enforcement officers face. As a result, they are not subject to disciplinary action by the state’s Law Enforcement Training Board.

Hatch turned down News 8’s request for comment for this story.

Freeman’s office said she would not comment further.