What is a Constable? - Definition, Powers & Duties

Instructor: Vericia Miller

Vericia has a masters in criminal justice.

In this lesson, you will learn about constables, who they are and what they do. You will learn more about their role in the law enforcement arena and the differences between the constable and the law enforcement officer.

What Is a Constable?

In most states and/or counties, various law enforcement officials are used to keep the peace within a particular jurisdiction. Depending on the county, you'll likely find police officers, deputy sheriffs and constables. The role of constable will differ based on the state and county. Generally speaking, he/she is a peace officer who shares some of the same responsibilities and job duties as that of a police officer or a sheriff. Constables are either elected or appointed, and their main duty is to keep the peace within their assigned jurisdictions. They also have duties that do not pertain to enforcing the law. They can serve as a court processor by serving a summons to a defendant and even serve as a bailiff in a courthouse. Not only do they have some of the same duties as a full fledged law enforcement officer, but they also share some of the same rights. For example, constables are allowed to carry guns.

Differences Between Constables and Law Enforcement

There are similarities and differences between a constable and a deputy sheriff. First, constables are allowed by state law to pull vehicles over, make arrests, and provide security at community events. The biggest difference between the two, however, is that constables generally oversee smaller towns and communities. Their jurisdiction is much smaller than that of a sheriff. Whereas, a deputy sheriff's main territory would be the entire county in which he/she is employed. Constables typically do not investigate crimes or involve themselves in serious criminal activity. They can make arrests where a misdemeanor is concerned or even some low level felonies. The scope of their work is centered on minor crimes, infractions and/or violations. This is because most do not possess the full and complete training of a sheriff or police officer. Though a deputy sheriff has some of the same job duties, he has also been trained to tackle the most serious of cases such as murder, rape, and aggravated assault.

Constable Job Requirements

Every state and county is different and therefore has different requirements by which a prospective constable must meet. However, for most, the qualifications aren't very competitive. If you want to be a constable, you should be a US citizen with no criminal record. You must also be of legal age to carry a firearm. However, in 2012 Constable Jackie Roberts of Clay County, KY was elected even though he had a fairly extensive criminal record.

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