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Marshals Offices vs Constable Offices


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  • Marshals Offices vs Constable Offices

    This is a question that’s been puzzling me for ages. I know both Marshals and Constables are peace officers and both deal with lower courts and civic duties but what’s the difference between the two.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    In what state? Pennsylvania and most eastern states do not have Marshal's offices. Constables are different between the states.
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    • #3
      We used to have a “constable’ on here...he would argue that they are all Cops and it’s only a title.
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      • #4
        In Texas, a Constable is an elected county official and has Deputy Constables....duties differ from county to county, usually civil process and supports the Justice of the Peace office of that precinct. Some are very active, traffic enforcement, DWI patrols...etc.

        and in Texas some cities have city Marshals that usually work for city municipal courts.

        All are peace officers with the same police powers.

        I do not know what it's like for other states.
        Last edited by Kraut0783; 01-07-2021, 09:47 PM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kraut0783 View Post
          ...I do not know what it's like for other states.
          When I started cop work forty years ago, Minnesota had some constables and deputy constables. They were employed by townships. The Minnesota Legislature has since abolished constables.

          There are very few remaining township police departments, but there are several that do still exist.




          • #6
            Originally posted by Dres2346 View Post
            This is a question that’s been puzzling me for ages. I know both Marshals and Constables are peace officers and both deal with lower courts and civic duties but what’s the difference between the two.

            Thanks in advance.
            Colorado technically has Constables, it's just a title for a town's police officers... but I can't think of any town that uses it.

            In Colorado there are two types of Marshals: Municipal Court Marshals and Town Marshals.

            A town Marshal's Office is just a quaint name for the police department. Using the Marshal title usually implies a small agency, maybe that doesn't provide 24/7 coverage or has limited services... but it doesn't have to be that way. Telluride has a Marshal's Office, and they are fairly large. A Town Marshal or Deputy Marshal has all the powers of a regular police officer 24/7.

            A Municipal Court Marshal is rare, but they do exist. Lakewood, Arvada, Denver and Wheat Ridge have them. There probably are others. They serve the processes of the municipal court in a similar way the Sheriff serves the County and District courts: security, civil processes, warrant service, inmate transport, etc. They are fully empowered peace officers on duty, but have no authority when they are off duty.
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            • #7
              California used to have both Constables and Marshals. Constables served Justice of the Peace Courts while Marshals served Municipal Courts. Both Constables and Justice of the Peace Courts were abolished many years ago.
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              • #8
                Some marshal departments here in Texas are police departments, but the difference is the marshal is an elected head of his agency. In these agencies, the elected marshal appoints his deputy marshals. Their departments are similar to sheriff and constable departments except they are at the municipal level. I'm from Houston, but I didn't know there were city marshals until I became an officer in another city. I was home visiting when I ran into one working a part time duty at a local movie theater. That was back in the early '90s so I can't remember a lot of what he said, but I seem to remember his main duty was enforcing civil and executing warrants out of the City of Houston's municipal courts - again, similar to what a constable does with justice of the peace courts of a county.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
                  We used to have a “constable’ on here...he would argue that they are all Cops and it’s only a title.
                  It's partially true in some states. In Connecticut, for example, in towns that operate under the resident state trooper program, town police officers that work under the supervision of a CSP sergeant are known, by statute, as "special constables." They attend the same municipal police academy and have the same powers and duties as municipal officers in towns with their own PD. It varies from town to town whether they're referred to as "officer" or "constable", but in either case, they are cops. However, most of the towns also have standard constables with no police power, who work per diam traffic control jobs for town events. Before the mid 1980s, all constables DID have police powers and attended an abbreviated police academy, but that changed when CT went to a POST system.
                  "If the police have to come get you, they're bringing an @$$ kicking with them!"
                  -Chris Rock


                  • #10
                    In Texas, we have constables and marshals. Constables provide bailiffs for the justice of the peace courts and serve civil process and Class C misdemeanor arrest warrants from those courts. Constables are elected by precinct which is a subdivision of a county. With a few exceptions, there is a constable in each precinct in the state. Some constable’s offices are tiny but some have over 500 deputies each. In Harris County, they engage in general LE work such as patrol and investigations. A few small counties have abolished the constable’s office due to no one running for the position and the duties have been given to the sheriff’s office.

                    Some municipalities (villages, towns, and cities) in Texas have a mashal’s office in addition to a police department. Generally, they provide bailiffs for the municipal courts and serve Class C misdemeanor and city ordinance violation arrest warrants. If those municipalities don’t have a marshal’s office then those duties fall to the police department. State law allows the municipality to determine if a marshal will be elected or appointed.

                    Constables and marshals have the same arrest authority in Texas as sheriffs and municipal police.


                    • #11
                      GA has constables but they have limited arrest authority, they don't have to be POST certified and serve civil papers for the courts. Some counties don't have them, some are unarmed and some places they are armed. I applied for a constable position not long ago. Would have been about a $2 an hour raise, a take home car, with admin hours and better benefits. Wouldn't have to worry about getting called in, in the middle of the night or working holidays. Unfortunately I didn't get the job.

                      Haven't heard of any current marshals yet in GA. But FWIW I know of one city that has an ordinance designating the city marshal as the police chief.


                      • #12
                        In Ohio, a marshal is the chief of police of a village, which is an incorporated town of less than 5,000 residents.

                        Only townships may appoint constables. Constables are the police for a township, but they have the statutory authority to act as court officers for a court within their township, although I have never seen a court use constables for that purpose.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
                          We used to have a “constable’ on here...he would argue that they are all Cops and it’s only a title.
                          That's certainly true for Ohio.


                          • #14
                            The other reason there aren't more marshal departments here in Texas is that cities like to have direct control over their police. They appoint a chief who leads the department at their mercy. A department with an elected marshal appoints his deputies and is only beholden to the public. The caveat of the elected marshal's office is that he has to go before city council and fight for funding. Many cities over the years cut funding for their marshal's departments to nothing and then started their police departments. There was a small city in the area I worked which had exactly that same thing happen.


                            • #15
                              In Canada, we do not have Marshalls - ok, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) operates Canada's Air Marshall Program, but that was just someone's idea of a COOOOOOOOOOOL name for our guys getting to avoid carrying files!

                              Constable (Cst) is GENERALLY the lowest rank of full-range-of-duty non-commissioned officer in the MAJORITY of Canadian Police Services (PS), whether RCMP, Provincial (Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), or Municipal (Mun); I THINK the Surete de Quebec (SQ - Quebec Provincial Police) call their members Agents.

                              Some Canadian PS (particularly RCMP) have:
                              - Auxiiary Cst (A/Cst): Civilian volunteers, partially-trained, working part-time, generally in uniform, generally direct-supervised by a Cst or higher, and generally do NOT carry firearms;
                              - Special Cst (S/Cst): Provost (Prisoner Transport) and Air Services (pilots), who are trained to a greater degree than A/Cst but lesser than Csts, hired for those specific dutes, and are armed;
                              - Reserve Cst (R/Cst): Former or retired Csts, from that Agency, or another, that work part-time, casual, or for a set period, and are fully authoritzed, paid, and armed.
                              #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
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                              RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
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