The History of Constables: The office of constable dates back at least to 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England. William the Conqueror appointed constables to supervise individual communities or boroughs. A constable's duties varied considerably in different circumstances and times. They were often similar to those of a sheriff, who supervised a shire (the equivalent of a county).
Over time, however, as sheriffs were given increasing administrative duties, constables assumed primary responsibility for local law enforcement. The office of constable had been transplanted to the British colonies in North America by the mid-seventeenth century, and with it continued the divergence between constable and sheriff. In America as in England, the main qualification for the office of sheriff was "that he be of sufficient estate."
This limited the choices for sheriff to a relatively small and elite group of planters in each county. As a result, few sheriffs had either the ability or desire to serve warrants or bring offenders to justice. Consequently, the constable and justice of the peace were about the only law and order most rural American settlers ever saw.
Constables are among the earliest recorded police officers in world history. They became the chief household officers in England by the turn of the 6th century. In France, Constables commanded the armies in the Kings absence.
In 1583 William Lambard published the first Policy & Procedure manual for Law Enforcement. Its primary purpose was to outline the duties of the Constable.
About Texas Constables: In 1836, the Constitution of THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS established Constables as primary Law Enforcement Administrators, whose stature is still upheld under article 2.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. They are elected to four-year terms of office and are commissioned by the Governor of Texas as Law Enforcement Agencies just as the Sheriff's Department or the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In fact, a Constable is an associate member of the D.P.S. under section 411.009(a) of the Government Code. His/Her "original" jurisdiction is anywhere in the county of election and is statewide in all criminal and most civil matters.
To meet the challenges and demands of this responsibility, Texas Constables must be licensed by the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement with a minimum of 600 classroom hours of training in a Basic Police Academy. Deputy Constables are certified peace officers.
The duties of a Texas constable generally include providing bailiffs for the justice of the peace court(s) within his/her precinct and serving process issued there from and from any other court. Moreover, some constables’ offices provide patrol, investigative, and security services.
In 2000, there were 2,630 full-time deputies and a large number of reserve deputies working for the 760 constables’ offices in Texas. Of this number, 35% were primarily assigned to patrol, 33% to serving process, 12% to court security, and 7% to criminal investigations.
In Harris County: Harris County has about 1,000 deputy constables serving between the eight precincts in the county. Go to http://www.co.harris.tx.us/constable/ to find the Constable in your area.
updated January, 2007.