constable(redirected from police constables)
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An official of a Municipal Corporation whose primary duties are to protect and preserve the peace of the community.
In medieval law, a constable was a high functionary under the French and English kings. The importance and dignity of this position was second only to that of the monarch. The constable led the royal armies and was cognizant of all military matters, exercising both civil and military jurisdiction. It was also his duty to conserve the peace of the nation.
In English Law, a constable was a public civil officer whose general duty was to maintain the peace within his district, although he was frequently charged with additional obligations. "High," "petty," and "special" constables formerly existed. The police have assumed the functions of constables.
State constitutions and laws in the United States generally establish prerequisites for holding the office of constable. In most instances, a constable must be a U.S. citizen, a qualified voter, and a resident in the area of his or her jurisdiction.
The term of office and removal therefrom are usually governed by state constitutions and laws. A basis for removal may reside in neglect of duty.
A constable-elect is generally required to post a bond as security for faithful performance of the duties and obligations of the office. The bond protects those individuals who might otherwise be harmed by any possible neglect of duty.
A constable has the status of peace officer, a person designated by public authority to maintain the peace and arrest persons guilty or suspected of crime. The constable must yield to the superior authority of a sheriff, the chief executive and administrative officer of a county, where a conflict exists concerning jurisdiction.
Service of process—the delivering of a summons which informs a person that he or she is a defendant in a lawsuit—is an important function of a constable. State laws confer the power to serve process. The constable executes the process of magistrates' court and of some other tribunals. The courts do not instruct constables on the manner of serving process. The constable should exercise due diligence to make the service but is not obligated to exert every conceivable effort.
Attachment—the seizure of a debtor's property pursuant to court order—is another function of a constable. It is the constable's duty to assume custody of and carefully preserve the property to be seized. In most instances, the constable is expected to sell the property and collect and distribute the sale proceeds.
Miscellaneous duties assigned to constables by local or state law include the custody of juries, attendance at criminal court sessions, and the service of writs—court orders requiring the performance of a specified act or giving authority to have it done. The powers and duties of constables have, however, been replaced by sheriffs in many jurisdictions.
n. a law officer for a particular area such as a rural township, much like a sheriff (who serves a county) and usually elected, who is responsible for such duties as serving summons, complaints, subpenas, and court orders, assisting the local court, as well as "keeping the peace." In England this was an exalted position as law enforcement chief for an extensive area, but in the United States the office of constable is a dying breed, like Justice of the Peace. (See: sheriff)
CONSTABLE. An officer, who is generally elected by the people.
2. He possess power, virture officii, as a conservator of the peace at common law, and by virtue of various legislative enactments; he. way therefore apprehend a supposed offender without a warrant, as treason, felony, breach of the peace, and for some misdemeanors less than felony, when committed in his view. 1 Hale, 587; 1 East, P. C. 303 8 Serg. & Rawle, 47. He may also arrest a supposed offender upon the information of others but he does so at his peril, unless he can show that a felony has been committed by some person, as well as the reasonableness of the suspicion that the party arrested is guilty. 1 Chit. Cr. L. 27; 6 Binn. R. 316; 2 Hale, 91, 92 1 East, P. C. 301. He has power to call others to his assistance; or he may appoint a deputy to do ministerial acts. 3 Burr. Rep. 1262.
3. A constable is also a ministerial officer, bound to obey the warrants and precepts of justices, coroners, and sheriffs. Constables are also in some states bound to execute the warrants and process of justices of the peace in civil cases.
4. In England, they have many officers, with more or less power, who bear the name of constables; as, lord high constable of England, high constable 3 Burr. 1262 head constables, petty constables, constables of castles, constables of the tower, constables of the fees, constable of the exchequer, constable of the staple, &c.
5. In some of the cities of the United States there are officers who are called high constables, who are the principal police officers where they reside. Vide the various Digests of American Law, h.t.; 1 Chit. Cr. L. 20; 5 Vin. Ab. 427; 2 Phil. Ev. 253 2 Sell. Pr. 70; Bac. Ab. h.t.; Com. Dig. Justices of the Peace, B 79; Id. D 7; Id, Officer, E 2; Wille. Off. Const.