There's a constable election this November. What exactly is a constable?

The Penn State Justice and Safety Institute trains these elected officials for 37 counties in western Pennsylvania

Constables, who are trained in part by the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute, will be on the ballot on Election Day. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When voters visit their polling precinct on Election Day, Nov. 2, they may see an unfamiliar office to vote for on their ballot: constable. This elected official helps keep the public safe thanks in part to a partnership between Pennsylvania and Penn State.  

The Penn State Justice and Safety Institute (JASI) administers the state’s Constable Education Training Program for 37 counties in western Pennsylvania as part of an agreement between Penn State JASI and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

All newly elected constables or appointed deputy constables, who want to perform judicial duties, are required to successfully complete basic training, and all constables must complete annual training requirements.

Tony Mucha, Penn State JASI’s program coordinator for the constable training program, said constables help keep people safe.      

“Constables are important members of the community and play critical roles during elections and through the court systems,” he said. “It’s vital they’re trained through a rigorous program that allows them to perform their jobs at the highest level and be effective partners with their neighbors and community members.”

Constables serve a variety of functions, including preserving the peace at polling locations during elections; performing judicial duties for civilian and criminal courts like serving warrants, summons, complaints and subpoenas; and providing court security to the magisterial district courts and prisoner transport services in criminal cases.

Sherry Leffler, supervisor of the Constable Education Training Program for PCCD, said Penn State JASI, which also administers the state’s sheriff and deputy sheriff training program for all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, was a perfect match when looking for a partner.

“PCCD has worked with Penn State JASI for more than 20 years, and they have a good understanding of what it means to conduct a statutorily mandated training program,” she said. “They have shown to be flexible, supportive and strive to produce a high-quality training program.”

Constables are elected to six-year terms and serve all Pennsylvania townships, boroughs and cities, with the exception of Philadelphia. Constables also can be appointed by the president judge of their county or appointed as a deputy under an elected constable.

The training program provides instruction in several areas, including Pennsylvania crime codes and civil procedures, firearm education, physical training and defensive tactics, prisoner transport and custody, courtroom security, crisis intervention, and ethics.

Constables, magistrate judges, and active and retired local, state and federal law enforcement officers help deliver the training.

“We rely on highly-qualified instructors who provide the constables with invaluable real-world experiences,” Mucha said. “Those experiences, coupled with the curriculum, allow us to provide them with the best learning experience possible, which in turn, helps the communities where they all serve.”

Visit the Penn State JASI website for more information.

Last Updated October 21, 2021