Since my election as constable countless people have asked me, what exactly is a constable. Following is something that is widely distributed by the constables. I am not sure of the original source of this particular statement, but hopefully this will be helpful in answering the questions of my friends.
About the Office of Constable
History of the Constable
Constable’s are the oldest law enforcement position in the world. History records Constable’s in France in the beginning of the 5th century, when they were known as the Counts of the King’s Stables. By the turn of the 6th century they were the Chief Household Officers and commanded the Armies in the King’s absence. In the year 871 AD King Alfred of England, declared the Constable was the highest judge in the military and in matters of chivalry and honor. He was also named by the King to be the supreme arbitrator in tilts, tournaments, and martial displays.
The first Constables in the territory called Penn’s Woods began serving in the year 1664. In the year 1681 Pennsylvania officially became a Commonwealth and in 1787 became a Commonwealth State of the U.S.A. Constables were amongst the first public officials of the Commonwealth
The first recorded law enforcement officer of the State to be killed in the line of duty was a Constable in Venango County in the year 1825.
Constables in Pennsylvania are elected and serve a six-year term, they are Peace Officers by virtue of the office they hold, upon completing state certification and training, they may also serve as the Law Enforcement Arm of the Court. Constables primarily serve the District Courts but may also assist in serving the Common Pleas Court, when requested by the Sheriff.
As Public Officials Constables are required to file an annual Statement of Financial Interests with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission .
Each Constable may with approval of the President Judge, appoint Deputies to work under his authority. Each Deputy is given the same authority as the Constable himself, but serves at the pleasure of the elected Constable.
Constable’s are considered to be the “Peoples Peace Officer” because of their Constitutional origin, and as elected officials they are independent of other governing bodies, this gives the Constable the freedom and authority to perform his duties according to statute, in the interest of justice.
The duty of the Constable is to uphold the law fairly and firmly: to pursue and bring to justice those who break the law; to keep the peace; to protect, help and reassure the community: and to be seen to do all this with integrity, common sense and sound judgment.
We must be compassionate, courteous and patient, acting without fear or favor or prejudice to the rights of others. We need to be professional, calm and restrained in the face of violence and apply only that force which is necessary to accomplish our lawful duty.
We must strive to reduce the fears of the public and, so far as we can, to reflect their priorities in the action we take.
What is a Constable ?
Under Pennsylvania Law, Constables are Public Officers, elected or appointed to their position in accordance with the laws of elections.
A Constable is a sworn Law Enforcement / Peace Officer that can arrest for felony crimes and breaches of the peace committed in his presence, or by warrant anywhere in the commonwealth.
A Constable is also an officer empowered to carry out the business of the statewide district court system, by serving warrants of arrest, mental health warrants, transporting prisoners, service of summons, complaints and subpoenas, and enforcing protection from abuse orders as well as orders of eviction and judgment levies.
Constables are also charged with maintaining order at the election polls and ensuring that no qualified elector is obstructed from voting, Constables are the only Law Enforcement Officials permitted at the polls on election day.
While Constables primarily serve the Courts, they belong to the executive branch of government.
Constables are elected at the municipal level, however State law governs Constables and they have statewide authority, thus the title became “State Constable”.
Constables are empowered to enforce both criminal and civil laws, Police Officers are empowered to enforce criminal and traffic laws, Sheriff’s are the chief law enforcement officer of the County and are empowered to enforce criminal, civil and traffic laws.
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