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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 United States. Constables were among 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, and sworn Officers of the Law 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. In order to have a deputy constable appointed, the constable must file a petition with the Court of Common Pleas and state the reasons a deputy is needed. A constable must show that a deputy constable is needed due to the volume of business or constable workload. The constable may not seek appointment of a deputy constable in order to delegate all or most of his or her work to the deputy constable and must have a bona fide reason to appoint a deputy. However, a constable may appoint election day deputy constables to monitor polling places in their elected districts.

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, answerable only to the Office of the Governor. This gives the Constable the freedom and authority to perform his duties according to statute, in the interest of true 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 judgement, protecting and defending the Constitutionally affirmed Rights of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

They must be compassionate, courteous and patient, acting without fear, favor, or prejudice to the rights of others. They need to be professional, calm and restrained in the face of violence and apply only that force which is necessary to accomplish their lawful duty.

They must strive to reduce the fears of the public and, so far as they can, to reflect their priorities in the action they take.

What is a Constable?

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. Constables are not police officers, in as much as they do not conduct traffic stops or conduct criminal investigations. 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 judgement levies, but they do not belong to the judicial branch. With regard to their judicial services, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has found Constables to be "independent contractors that orbit the judiciary."

Peace Officers are empowered to quell a disturbance or breach of the peace. A disturbance of the peace in Pennsylvania is defined as an imminent threat or danger to persons or property. For example, if a constable observes a public brawl, then the constable may arrest the participants for breaching the peace. According to Pennsylvania common law, a citizen may also have a limited power of arrest commonly known as a citizens arrest for felonies committed in view, but they are not given the shroud of authority, or color of law of being a State Actor, as a Constable, Sheriff or other law enforcement officer is given.

Constables are likely the most cost effective and efficient law enforcement entities in the State as the draw no salary, benefits or pension from the State / taxpayer. Court related duties are paid via a set fee schedule outlined by State law, these court costs are borne by the defendant in criminal matters or the plaintiff in civil matters. The constable commonly receives taxpayer funds for court related functions indirectly only in the instance that the constable is commanded by the court to perform service on an indigent person, in which case the county may pay the appropriate compensation as outlined by state law.

Constables must purchase their own uniforms, firearms, vehicles, fuel, bond, professional liability insurance, accessories, office supplies, etc ... entirely at their own expense.

Constables may offer other services such as peacekeeping, local ordinance enforcement, traffic control and direction and more on a voluntary or negotiated fee basis.

Constables must undergo 120 hours of training, including 40 hours of basic firearms training in order to receive and maintain their Certification to perform their duties for the courts. Additionally, they must receive 20 hours of firearms training annually. All Constables must be bonded and insured as well under PA ACT 44 - 1994 and PA ACT 49 - 2009.

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 and are answerable to the Governor. Constables are elected at the municipal level, however State law governs Constables and they have statewide authority, thus the title, "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.

Only State Constables and County Sheriffs are Constitutionally elected Peace Officers, of the People, by the People, and for the People. All others are hired and fired at the discretion of the bureaucracies and bureaucrats which govern their respective jurisdictions.

Powers of State Constables It is the constable's job to enforce the law and carry it out, just the same as the job of district attorneys, sheriffs and the police generally" (see tn r» Act 147 of 1990, 528 Pa., act470, 598 A.2d 9S5 [In fact, Pennsylvania constables have the right in Pennsylvania to arrest by warrant anywhere in the commonwealth, and to conduct warrantless arrests for felonies and breaches of the peace, including warrantless arrests for felony violations of the drug laws (see Commonwealth v. Taylor, 450 Pa. Super. 583, 596, 677 A.2d 846,852 [Pa. 1996]). They also have statutory powers of arrest in certain situations (see e.g. 32 P.S. S582; S3 P.S. §13349. Moreover, they are exempt from the need to have a carry license for their weapon pursuant to 18 Pa.CS. § 6106.


If a Constable or a Deputy Constable is at a courthouse on any type of Constable-related business, he or she is entitled to carry his or her firearm. The

County may require the officer to show identification, to sign in, and to sign out, but the County is not permitted to have any rule restricting the Constable from carrying his or her firearm. This is a mandatory requirement of state law.

Title 18 Section 913:

Possession of firearm or other dangerous weapon in court facility.

(a) Offense defined.--A person commits an offense if he:

(1) knowingly possesses a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a court facility or knowingly causes a firearm or other dangerous weapon to be present in a court facility; or

(2) knowingly possesses a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a court facility with the intent that the firearm or other dangerous weapon be used in the commission of a crime or knowingly causes a firearm or other dangerous weapon to be present in a court facility with the intent that the firearm or other dangerous weapon be used in the commission of a crime.

(c) Exceptions.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to:

(1) The lawful performance of official duties by an officer, agent or employee of the United States, the Commonwealth or a political subdivision who is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of any violation of law.

(2) The lawful performance of official duties by a court official.


Chapter 51 - Obstructing Governmental Operations  5104.1 - Disarming law enforcement officer.

5104.1. Disarming law enforcement officer. (a) Offense defined.--A person commits the offense of disarming a law enforcement officer if he: (1) without lawful authorization, removes or attempts to remove a firearm, rifle, shotgun or weapon from the person of a law enforcement officer or corrections officer, or deprives a law enforcement officer or corrections officer of the use of a firearm, rifle, shotgun or weapon, when the officer is

acting within the scope of the officer's duties; and (2) has reasonable cause to know or knows that the individual is a law enforcement officer or corrections officer. (b) Grading.--A violation of this section constitutes a felony of the third degree.

  1. 6106.Firearms not to be carried without a license. (a) Offense defined.-- (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), any person who carries a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license under this chapter commits a felony of the third degree. (2) A person who is otherwise eligible to possess a valid license under this chapter but carries a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license and has not committed any other criminal violation commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. (b) Exceptions.--The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to: (1) Constables, Sheriffs, prison or jail wardens, or their deputies, policemen of this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions, or other law-enforcement officers.

§ 6120. Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition. (a) General rule.--No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

See rule 515, 234,237,120 and rule 103  Only a police officer can execute a warrant in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Constables Execute Warrants.



RULE 103:

POLICE OFFICER: is any person who is by law given the power to arrest when acting within the scope of the person’s employment.

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER is any person who is by law given the power to enforce the law when acting within the scope of that person’s employment.

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County Sheriffs and State Constables are the only Constitutionally elected Peace Officers in the United States.

• Chief Law Enfocement Officer
• Federal Agents are not Police Officers
• Arrest Authority of Constables
• PA Fraternal Order of Constables
• Constable Certification
Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association
Luzerne CountyConstables Assoc.