A constable is a local elected official and serves six-year terms.

East Stroudsburg State Constable Michael Wolbert
East Stroudsburg State Constable Michael Wolbert

Constables belong to the executive branch of government. As such, they are answerable to the governor of Pennsylvania. However, they are not formally overseen by any state agency. They perform services for the Pennsylvania Magisterial courts, but do not belong to the judicial branch. With regard to their judicial services, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has found constables to be “independent contractors.”

In Pennsylvania, constables are peace officers.  As such, they are also empowered to quell a disturbance of the peace. A disturbance of the peace in Pennsylvania is defined as an imminent threat or danger to persons or property. For example, if a constable observes a public brawl, then the constable may arrest the participants for breaching the peace. According to Pennsylvania common law, a citizen may also have a “limited” power of arrest commonly known as a citizens arrest for felonies committed in view, but they are not given the shroud of authority a constable, sheriff or other law enforcement officer is given.

The first PA Constable was 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.