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  • An American constable?

    I was watching City Confidential on A&E last night and they did a piece on a murder that took place in Brownsville, TX back in the early 90s. The thing that caught my attention was that the main investigator held the title of Constable. I'm just sort of curious to see if this is an idiosyncracy in the Brownsville department, or Texas in general?

    Here in WI, there are about a dozen 'town constables' left in the state. They are people with little to no real LE training and are instead charged with 'keeping the peace' in rural areas. Mostly, they end up doing animal control and other mundane stuff.

    On the same note, what are some more archaic LE titles you're in use in your area?

    In WI, there is a seldom-used title of Marshall. A nearby village eliminated their police department a few years ago (due to 'irreconcilable differences' between the village board and the chief) and shortly thereafter employed a village marshall charged with law enforcement. He had the same kind of law enforcement capabilities, but there was some legal reason they didn't call him a police officer. That has since changed and they now employ an officer.

    I've also been told that a nearby rural area employs a Town Patrolman. But he has no LE function. As I understand it, he's somehow involved in road maintenance.
    Caution and worry never accomplished anything.

  • #2
    IN Texas Constables are a lot like Sheriffs. In many small population counties they are elected and only require 40 hours of training to be on the street. Most go through an academy but that is the only requirement. They are considered peace officers just like municipal police. They are responsible for serving civil process and writs of execution. They are police officers and they run traffic, serve warrants etc.

    In Bexar county they have 4 or 5 constable precints and 1 constable elected to each precint. Each precint is like a police department and has several deputy constables. They mainly serve paperwork, but some constables have taken a proactive approach to law enforcement and run traffic etc. In Harris county they contract small unincorporated cities and are the primary police that handle calls.

    Did you watch the documentary about the constable that was a big guy that was attacked by three men that took his gun?
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out and meet it. - Thucydides

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    • #3
      Here in this state, some small cities(no such thing as a "town" anymore)employ a "Night Marshal" for LE. That is usually either a part time employee who works another full time job during the day but works or operates a business locally so he can respond to emergencies, or a full time city employee who works on the streets, sewers, and maintains city property, but also works 15-20 hours a week nights patrolling the city for fire watch, security, and reacting to disturbances and emergencies. In a lot of cases, the city police vehicle is nothing more than the city's street department pickup truck with emergency equipment installed, doubling as a police vehicle.

      However, most of this practice has gone the way of the whip antennas and wooden batons. With increased drug activity in rural areas and small towns, as well as other factors which lead to a lot of domestic issues, most small cities are learning they have to step up their law enforcement presence, quit pretending they are still living in Sleepy Hollow, and to not think they can rely on the Sheriff's Dept. or someone wearing many hats to enforce the law in their town when they can do so for themselves.
      Never make a drummer mad- we beat things for a living!

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      • #4
        You will find CONSTABLES throught New York State, especially on Long Island and in the nothern suburbs of New York. Some Constables are volunteers, other part timers, some are seasonal, the rest are paid full timers.

        Just as their "status" full, part time,volunteer varies so do their powers! The Constables who are employed in the full time positions usually have parity in terms of "authority," not pay scale with the larger area police departments.

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        • #5
          There used to be Township or Village Constables in Ohio but they have traded the trem for simply police to be more in line with modern times.
          The Constable had very limited duties compared to police officers in Ohio today or Sheriff's.

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          • #6
            Tombstone, AZ, "The Town Too Tough To Die", still has no police, but has a Marshall's office. And, Until a few years ago, they still had the "No Guns in Town" law that led to the OK Corral shootout.

            AZ Constables handle court papers.
            "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
            John Stuart Mill

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            • #7
              American Constable

              In Alabama,the office still exists in some counties.Each county has several "beats",and each can elect a Constable.The position is unpaid,and no certification or training is required as is the case for other classes of law enforcement officers.Constables are empowered to serve papers,and can make arrests in counties where they still exist.Few attorneys,courts,or sheriffs route in any process or paperwork in the direction of Constables.In an adjacent county,the Sheriff required all Constables in the county to cease using emergency lights or equipment on their vehicles. The vehicles are privately owned.The Constables threatened a suit etc,but complied with the Sheriff's directive.

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              • #8
                The small county in Ky where im from still has the office of constable that is elected every year but like most have no "real" LE authorities. Mostly they do the whole "cat in the tree" "elderly at winter time" thing. Where i live in WV has the same thing as does where i work in alabama. On another note the KY Fish & Wildlife Conservation Officers have the same exact LE powers as our state police as well as also being able to enforce state and federal game laws.

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                • #9
                  Here in my department we are all constables until you get promoted. The RCMP, our national police force which does mostly rural policing but some urban as well, are also constables until promoted.

                  It's the same for the province, as well as most of the region if I'm not mistaken.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pseudo
                    Here in my department we are all constables until you get promoted. The RCMP, our national police force which does mostly rural policing but some urban as well, are also constables until promoted.

                    It's the same for the province, as well as most of the region if I'm not mistaken.
                    Pseudo is correct - "Constable" is a rank in ALL Canadian Police Services.

                    The RCMP also has:
                    - Auxiliary Constable: not a rank, nor an employee, but more of a "class" of persons that work with our members. A/Cst are unpaid, trained, civilians who assist our members with enforcement and community relation projects. They ARE appointed as Peace Officers under the Provincial Police Act of whatever Province they are in, and ONLY hold such authority when working under the direct supervision of an RCMP Regular Member. A/Cst are NOT authorized to carry firearms;
                    - Civilian Members: persons hired for their particular skills, expertise or for limited support roles (lab scientists, telecommunication operators, computer and communication system techs). They do not wear uniform, nor carry firearms, nor conduct investigations;
                    - Cadets: This is the designation for persons accepted to be trained to become RCMP Constables. They must successfully complete our (now) 24 week Basic Cadet Training Program before being appointed as Csts. Cadets are not paid.

                    RCMP Regular Members are persons who are authorized to carry firearms, and within that category we have the following ranks:
                    - Special Constables: not a rank level that one MUST go through. They are generally hired for prisoner transport. They do not conduct investigations;
                    - Constables: The rank trained Cadets are appointed to;
                    - Corporals: Commanders of small Detachments, supervisors at larger Detachments, or specialists (IDENT (CSI, sort of), Dogmaster);
                    - Sargeants: Commanders of medium sized Detachments, administrators in larger Detachments, shift supervisors at very large Detachments;
                    - Staff Sargeants: Commanders of larger Detachments or Units;
                    - Staff Sargeant Majors: very rare, more for deportment;
                    - Sargeant Majors: in charge of deportment, dress and discipline;
                    - Corps Sargeant Major: chief protocol advisor to the Commissioner;
                    - Inspectors: Commanders of specialized Units or very large Detachments;
                    - Superintendants: Commanders of large support services;
                    - Chief Superintendants: Commanders of the Academy and very large support or administrative sections;
                    - Assistant Commissioners: Division Commanders;
                    - Deputy Commissioners: Region Commanders;
                    - Commissioner: only 1
                    #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
                    Proud Dad of #54266 - RCMP - 2007-02-12 to date
                    RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
                    Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada - Associate (Retired) member
                    "Smile" - no!

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                    • #11
                      I am currently a State Constable in Pennsylvania. We are elected officals who are elected by the voters for a 6yr term. We are independant contractors and fulltime law enforcement officers for the state of PA. We work primarily for the minor courts in PA known as Magistrate courts. We are the first law enforcement officers in the state and the oldest law enforcement officers.

                      We are trained and fully certified by the State of PA, we carry firearms and have full arrest powers on view. We cannot arrest on information given like police officers can.

                      Our main job is to serve arrest warrants and civil process for the minor courts as well as prisoner transport and courtroom security.

                      We cannot enforce traffic laws and cannot pull over vehicles.

                      We are very much like Sheriff's Deputies in PA. In some remote rural areas in PA the Constable is the only law enforcement officer and is empowered to be the police for their elected district.

                      We are paid by the District Courts for the work we do and complete. Most Constables who work fulltime make between 50-100k a year with the exception of a few who make upwards of 150k. Yes, that means alot of work.

                      We must supply all of our own equipment, the only thing the state provides us is free training and yearly continuing education. We receive 40hrs of yearly training while police officers in our state only receive 16hrs.

                      For most Constable's starting out it is very expensive and hard to get work. Since one must buy everything...car, insurance, bond, duty equipment & radios you can see where it can be very expensive. I spent upwards of 25 grand to start out.


                      The office of State Constable is very much alive in PA and we do a very valuable service to the tax payers.

                      Tac
                      1*

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                      • #12
                        Texas Constables

                        Another thing about constables in Texas...the position of constable was created by the Texas Constitution and has the authority to Arrest the Governor of Texas, no other agency on Texas has that. The Texas Rangers do not have that authority. Constables in Harris County are quite powerful. We have 8 precincts here. Most do civil process and patrol (some by contract). Pct 1 aside from handling civil process and patrol of their area is considered the mental health warrant agency for the county. Pct 8 has a Astronaut Support Team to assist with things at the Johnson Space Center. Pcts 4 & 5 are extremely large and have specialty units. Pct has a Tactical team, bike patrol, traffic enforcement, toll road enforcement, DARE & GREAT, and Investigations, along with the civil process and patrol(contract and non-contract). Visibility is their big thing. They do an excellent job at it. In areas where the Sheriff's Dept is the main LEA, they step in and help out. They also patrol inside the city limits (somthing SO doesn't do) and that helps out HPD.

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                        • #13
                          In the UK we all hold the office of constable, with the exception of very high ranking officers in London who hold authority under a Royal Warrant. I'm a sergeant but I still hold the office of constable.

                          Lobster.

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                          • #14
                            In Ohio a Constable is an additional authortity given to the Police Officers of townships by the Sheriff's Office.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Invisiblecop
                              You will find CONSTABLES throught New York State, especially on Long Island and in the nothern suburbs of New York. Some Constables are volunteers, other part timers, some are seasonal, the rest are paid full timers.

                              Just as their "status" full, part time,volunteer varies so do their powers! The Constables who are employed in the full time positions usually have parity in terms of "authority," not pay scale with the larger area police departments.
                              I know this is a "dead thread", just had to put my 2 cents in, I live on Long Island, several villages have constables. Suffolk County has the following constable forces:

                              - Brightwaters
                              - Belle Terre
                              - Port Jefferson
                              - Poquott
                              - Old Field
                              - Patchogue

                              They are all peace officers and can only enforce village laws. They are armed, uniformed, have marked cars, etc.

                              We also have Town Public Safety officers, Marine Patrol officers/Bay Constables and Park Rangers. They are also peace officers, have guns, wear uniforms, have marked cars, etc.

                              I am not sure about constables in Nassau County, I do know their are a few constable forces upstate.

                              Comment

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