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An official of amunicipal corporationwhose 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.

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constable. One of the great medieval offices of state, derived from comes stabuli, count of the stables. The first lord high constable was a supporter of the Empress Matilda, who made him earl of Hereford. It then passed to the Bohuns, on to Thomas of Woodstock, and to his descendant Edward, duke of Buckingham, executed by Henry VIII in 1521. It had acquired responsibility for the mobilization of the army, for the enforcement of martial law, and for adjudication on matters of chivalry. After Buckingham's death, the office was granted temporarily to noblemen so that they could act at coronations: the duke of Wellington was lord high constable at three successive coronations in 1821, 1831, and 1838. Scottish constables commanded the army and from the time of Robert I the office became hereditary in the Hay family, earls of Erroll, who take precedence of all other Scottish subjects.

J. A. Cannon

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con·sta·ble / ˈkänstəbəl/ • n. 1. a peace officer with limited policing authority, typically in a small town. ∎ Brit. a police officer. 2. the governor of a royal castle. ∎ hist. the highest-ranking official in a royal household.

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constable chief officer of the household, etc. of a sovereign; governor of a royal castle XIII; officer of the peace XIV. — OF. cune-, conestable (mod. connétable), repr. late L. comes stabulī lit. COUNT (i.e. head officer) of the STABLE; cf. the development of the senses of marshal.
So constabulary †constable's office or district XVI; body of constables XIX. — medL.