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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 7, 2019 03:21 PM
From: Representative Barry J. Jozwiak
To: All House members
Subject: Elimination of Constables in PA
Over the past several years, the House has worked on reforming the office of Constable. Some Pennsylvania Counties have eliminated constables or restricted their duties in recent years. The General Assembly abolished the office of constable in the City of Philadelphia in 1970 after publication of a report on Philadelphia Constables that cited numerous issues with the system. The functions were transferred to the Sheriff.

Though some of the structure and duties have changed in the 60 years since the Philadelphia Constable Report was published, the core characteristics of the office – independently elected officials, law enforcement power unchecked by any meaningful oversight or chain of command, and a fee for service compensation system remain. The systemic lack of accountability and oversight, limited training and financial incentive to cut corners have, no doubt, contributed to the many well- publicized instances of abuse of the office.

Though there have been and currently are proposals to “reform” the constable system, the fact is the problems with the system will continue even under the proposed changes. It is time to recognize that the office of the elected constable is a vestige that is no longer needed in the 21st Century. For that reason, I believe it should be abolished altogether and will soon be offering legislation that will phase it out as the term of office of present constables expires.

Pennsylvania Sheriffs are currently doing the same duties professionally on the County level. They have the manpower, vehicles, knowledge & training as well as a chain of command to ensure appropriate oversight. Under my bill, all monies collected by the Sheriff’s would go into the county general fund and not be a cost to the County, which will provide substantial income to the Counties.

Please consider joining me as a co-sponsor of this legislation. Thank You