Constables are the oldest law enforcement positions in the world. History records Constables 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 among the first public officials of the Commonwealth.

Centre County has a special distinction in Pennsylvania and in the world of Constables.  In the 1870’s, the keepers of the peace in Bellefonte consisted of the “Chief Burgess,” from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and the High Constable, Charles Garner who was one of the first African-Americans in a Pennsylvania borough to be elected to public office.


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 courts. Many constables primarily serve the courts.

As public officials Constables are required to file an annual Statement of Financial Interests with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission .

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.
To be seen to do all this with integrity, common sense and sound judgment.

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.

Constables are elected at the municipal level, however state law governs Constables and they have statewide authority, thus bearing the title “Pennsylvania State Constable”.

Constables are empowered to enforce both criminal and civil laws, and are the only law enforcement allowed at the polls on election days.  Police Officers are empowered to enforce criminal and traffic laws, Sheriffs are the chief law enforcement officers of the County and are empowered to enforce criminal, civil and traffic laws.