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Pennsylvania’s constables serve as the law enforcement arm of the Minor Judiciary, which is the commonwealth’s district court system, and the Common Pleas Courts. Constables, most of whom are elected, have statewide jurisdiction in Pennsylvania and, as law enforcement officers, are authorized to carry out duties for civil and criminal proceedings. State constables were established in Pennsylvania in 1664, making constables Pennsylvania’s oldest form of law enforcement officer. Pennsylvania state constables have many resources to help with being effective in their roles.
Perform your duties within the constable code of ethics code, which is published by the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables. The code of ethics provides that constables are elected public servants who will perform their constitutional duties fairly, honestly and professionally without undue force or acceptance of gratuities (bribes). The code of ethics also provides that constables will join a professional organization, complete required training and respect other constables.
Complete all required training and certification as required by Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency provides constable training in several areas, including basic training, firearms education, judicial duties and annual training required to maintain certification. Take advantage of additional voluntary training resources offered by the commission.
Join the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables. Membership is limited to trained and certified Pennsylvania constables. The fraternal order has lodges in six regions throughout the state. The order provides members with benefits, education, training and support. The order also promotes and protects the interests of constables statewide. Membership can help you remain informed of changes in laws or other information you need to be effective.
Limit your duties to those prescribed for constables by law. Constables may make arrests by warrant or for offenses committed in the presence of the constable. Constables enforce the peace, transport prisoners and serve court documents in civil and criminal processes. Constables also enforce orders of protection, judgment and eviction. Constables have statewide authority.
Follow the suggestions published by the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables for how to be an effective constable. Maintain a good attitude, develop a good work ethic and people skills, and communicate and conduct yourself in a professional and courteous manner while working to control and diffuse each situation.
- Pennsylvania State Constable: History
- Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables: The Constable's Code of Ethics
- Pennsylvania: Constables’ Education and Training Board
- Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables: Membership Brochure
- Pennsylvania State Constable: Duties and Liabilities
- Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Constables: Effective Constable Suggestions
Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.