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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 7, 2019 02:30 PM
From: Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone
To: All House members
Subject: Prohibits Felons and Sex Offenders from serving as Constables and Increase Surcharge
In 2013 House Resolution 138 passed the House authorizing the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to conduct a comprehensive study of all aspects concerning constables in Pennsylvania. The JSGC issued recommendations to improve accountability, qualifications, training and professionalism of constables. To that end, this bill will includes two of the more basic recommendations from the Constables in Pennsylvania: Proposed Statutory Reforms study.

First, the bill will prohibits felons and registered sex offenders from serving as Pennsylvania State Constables and second, the bill will increase the surcharge fee in each case before a magisterial district judge from $5 to $9.

Currently, one simply needs to be elected or appointed to serve as a constable. Constables serve an important role in our justice system and wield significant power over the public they serve. Unfortunately, there have been examples of misconduct among constables. For example, a constable was charged with statutory sexual assault of a 15 year old girl and another shot and paralyzed a man over an un-paid parking ticket. These stories are just a couple of the shocking examples of the horrific behavior some in the constable ranks have shown. Based on the recommendations of the JSGC, a good starting point to reign in some of this behavior is to prohibit convicted felons and sex offenders from serving as constables.

Next, the bill includes a fee increase that is vital to ensure the financial viability of the Constables Fund. Under Act 49 of 2009, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) is required to house the Constables’ Education and Training Board to train and certify constables and deputy constables through its Constables’ Education Training Program. PCCD provides oversight and staff support to the Constables’ Education and Training Board. Despite the Board’s best efforts to conserve, the expenditures to train constables have exceeded the revenue collected in the Constables’ Fund over the past decade. This fee has not been increased in 20 years and by 2019, unless action is taken, the Fund will exhaust itself.

To be clear, this bill is a first step to improve accountability, qualifications, training and professionalism of constables and also provide the funding needed to continue training. Please join me and cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB907