Constables: who they are, and what they do

Jonathan Barbee
Constable Jonathan Barbee poses with children in his patrol car [Photo Credit: Jonathan Barbee's facebook page]

Only 24 counties, out of the 67 in Alabama, have constables. But who are they, and what do they do?

The Code of Alabama defines constables as an elected or appointed “conservator of the peace within his county,” and according to the Alabama Constables Association, they are one of the only two remaining elected peace officers in the world.

Their duties include:

  • attending the circuit court of the county when summoned by the sheriff for that purpose;
  • executing and returning all summons, executions and other process directed to him by any lawful authority;
  • paying over moneys collected by virtue of his office to the person entitled thereto
  • performing such other duties as are or may be required of him by law

Constables are also permitted to carry a gun, are authorized to make arrests, stop and question, search for dangerous weapons, escort weddings and funerals, and enforce traffic at churches and schools. Although not permitted to write a traffic ticket, they can also pull over vehicles who disobey traffic laws.

According to a 2015 article, the qualifications to become a constable are very few. “You must be a citizen of the county you’re running in, have no criminal record, and be old enough to carry a firearm.”

The report continues to name the counties have constables including: Barbour, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, Dallas, Dekalb, Elmore, Etowah, Franklin, Green, Jackson, Jefferson, Marengo, Marion, Mobile, Monroe, Russell, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Walker, Wilcox and Winston.

Tallapoosa County will only have constables until 2020, after which they will be abolished according a court ruling in April of this year.