No, I'm not talking about mayor or county executive.
Chances are, you've probably seen one or two over the years, tooling down the street in a converted cop cruiser. Sometimes, they wear improvised swat team uniforms, size XXXXL. A few even deck themselves out just like state troopers, right down to the Smokey Bear hat. But that size XXXXL uniform gives them away. If you're thinking Mall Cop, you're close. I'm talking about Pennsylvania's very own bounty hunters - the constable.
As a matter of full disclosure, I'm on a first name basis with several of these dudes. I've even driven in the back of some of their converted cruisers. You see, I accumulate parking tickets so often I really should look into a "frequent offender" discount. Now that I'm an old fart, they usually just call me.
An ancient office, constables have existed since the time of Edward Longshanks, not to be confused with Edwin of Renaissance Square. During the American Revolution, they were called "chief guardians of the peace." These days, they mostly serve warrants for outstanding parking tickets.
Unlike most peace officers, constables are elected to six-year terms. Once they complete their 80 hours of training and file proof they have liability insurance, their jurisdiction is statewide. A constable elected in Nazareth, for example, can spend his time serving warrants in Milford if he's pals with the magistrate there.
Before you sneer at the idea of serving papers, consider this. In 2007, Constable Frederick Schoenenberg raked in a cool $131,175.26, just from Northampton County. It's conceivable he made even more money doing work for magistrates in other counties. After control over constable payments was switched from court administrator to county fiscal affairs in 2007 to comply with some ruling from the state supremes, constable costs skyrocketed 75%, which drew the attention of Controller Steve Barron. Most constables appear to view the job as strictly part time, but some of them make a lot of money. Joshua Wagner, a hustler, was paid $99,257.88, just in Northampton County. The constable who usually arrests me, Stan Smith, was paid $77,293.33. Considering that a magistrate is paid $78,722, that's pretty good money.
Below you will see a list of Northampton County's payments to twenty-seven constables in 2007. Remember, these are just the payments from one county. I've linked their names to their ethics statements. Because constables are subject to very little oversight, both the state Supreme Court and state rep. Tom Caltagirone are considering reforms.
Peter Cochran - $14,757.95
(Easton Fire Department)
Tyrone J Comunale - $28,091.77
(works in six different magisterial districts throughout several counties)
James P. Doyle - $53,308.25
(serves Bethlehem's 14th ward, the Lehigh County Sheriff's Office and LTriC)
David Enstrom - $8,039.15
(serves Bethlehem's 9th ward, and is a cop with Upper Nazareth and at the Airport)
Shawn Fariello - $6,235.00
(Shawn is also an Easton area paramedic who can resuscitate you if you keel over after being served with a warrant)
Christopher Fenner - $16,860.25
(A Bethlehem city worker who moonlights serving warrants in Lower Saucon Tp)
Lamar Fronheiser - $1,771.20
(This dude is from Palmerton, and probably is out trapping beaver or something right now)
Paul Gilmore - $7,793.34
(Pen Argyl constable who works in Horsham)
Jonathan Hagenbuch - $49,085.46
(A Forks Tp constable who works full-time for Palmer Township)
Denise Halupka - $6,471.75
(Denise is actually a deputy constable who works full-time for the county).
Scott Hough - $65,820.42
(Hough is currently suing Northampton County for injuries sustained going after an escaped prisoner, the job he was elected to do. Good luck with that one, Scott.)
Ronald Kummer, Sr. - $39,915.37
(Ronald is another deputy constable. His turf is Easton)
William Kummer - $89,928.21
(William makes a living at it in Easton, and the pay's better than a magistrate!)
Walter Marinkovits - $9,103.43
(For reasons unknown, this Northampton resident calls himself "constable custodian." Maybe he takes out the garbage when he arrests someone)
Darden Napolitano - $67,796.41
(Business must be booming in Freemansburg. Just wait 'till there's a casino!)
Robert L Pepe - $14,878.38
(A Wind Gap cop, Pepe could make more money if he were more peppy)
Frederick Schoeneberger - $131,175.26
(This dude is cleaning up in Wilson Borough. Must be those damn meters by St. Luke's)
Richard Seeds - $43,670.52
(A Bethlehem Township constable, I'll have to tell Richard all the nasty things Lamont McClure has been saying about him)
Charles Seyfried - $42,416.65
(Charles, who works out of Bethlehem, actually typed his ethics statement)
David Sheats - $53,198.35
(A Lehigh Township constable who works for the City of Bethlehem. Do you give a sheat?)
Willard Sigley, Jr. - $39,019.16
(Elected in Lower Nazareth, Willard works both counties)
Stan Smith - $77,293.33
(Rumors that Stan once hog-tied me and walked away laughing are greatly exaggerated. He just smiled)
Paul Soldridge - $5,168.25
(Paul works mostly out of Coplay)
James Soldridge - $3,902.20
(James works out of North Whitehall Tp)
Joshua Wagner - $99,257.58
(This Bethlehem constable has to be in love with parking meters)
Adam Wood - $922.10
(Dude, why bother?)
James Wood- $21,639.68
(Woody is also an "attendance officer" for Easton schools.)