About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Constable

Nearly a month ago, I posted a blog about the little known world of the constable, Pennsylvania's very own bounty hunters. What surprised me most was how well some are paid. In 2007, Constable Frederick Schoenenberg raked in a cool $131,175.26, just from Northampton County.

I've just heard from Constable Schoenenberger. Fortunately, he had no parking ticket warrant. But he explains his job below, and it's not as easy as it looks.

Hello everyone, my name is Frederick Schoenenberger, one of the constables listed in Mr. O'hare's article and point of interest due to the amount of money the county has paid me.

I felt compelled to write and explain some details and specifics in respect to constables and our jobs. Good and bad points.

Yes, it is true we can make a great deal of money, set our own hours and work with little to no supervision. We are trusted to look and act professionally, respect people, obey and follow the law and uphold people's rights and liberties.

I can say with pretty precise certainty that the constables around here follow these standards. Constables in general do their jobs without notice most of the time.

The only time a constable is brought up usually is when something that the papers feel is bad. I say "feel" because this always isn't the truth and the paper will report what it wants and what it thinks will sell newspapers.

As you can see most of us around here and myself included make what most consider a ton of money.

The average person fails to realize just the amount of people/dockets we arrest or clear to make that kind of money.

For that $131,000 the county paid me I can tell you I made them close or over a million dollars for that. We are making the municipalities, state and county a fortune.

Since our fees are paid for by defendants or plaintiffs in civil cases, we are no cost to the taxpayers. We are really the only self sustained law enforcement that does not derive any money from the taxpayers! What county or state office can say that?

Now you say...."What happens if the defendant goes to jail or has no money, who pays you then?? The Taxpayers??"

Well, sorta but not really because the counties have this already planned.....for every docket that is issued or we collect on a $15.50 fee is added to it for the county to go into a fund....this money is then used to pay us if the defendant has no money.

So how big is this "Fund".....Just ask, it's a ton! Just think about all the dockets that clear in the entire county in a year and x that by $15.50!!

Any idea how many dockets I had to clear to make $131,000???? I cleared almost 6k worth!! now multiply that by $15.50??

That's just me, one constable!

Ok, so now we cleared that we are not funded by taxes so you say we are still making a ton of money.

Not so fast there buddy!

The office of constable is elected and since we receive no money for our office guess who pays for EVERYTHING?? Ding, Ding, Ding.....We do!! We get no benefits of any kind, no disability, major medical, dental...nothing!! Zilch, nada...nothing!

Again, we have to pay for everything! This means...

My car.....I have gone through 3 in my 6 year term.....can't buy new, it gets killed into the ground in a year or two. The cost just to maintain and service a car is several thousand a year and that does not include gas or insurance. We can't get a new car warranty because we are using the car for commercial purposes and the warranty doesn't cover it. So I have to set aside money to pay for a car "cash" every few years.

Any idea how many miles we put on a car in a year??? Just a hint we could go easily through a new car 36,000 mile warranty in a year's time.

I spent almost 20k last year on gas and another 3k on maintaining it.

Regular car insurance?? Nope, I wish....we are transporting prisoners and using the car in a business manner, my insurance is 3 times what a normal person would pay in a year.

How bout liability insurances, professional and umbrella?? Yep, tack on a grand or so there a year.

I spend a few thousand on postage a year....I as well as any other constable I know always sends a letter first.

And yes, that's thousands a year on postage!

Now let's talk cell phones, hmmm...just paid my bill 2 days ago....$523.00 a month! This includes 2 phones and a wireless air card. Ok, why 2 phones??

Well, I shut 1 (my primary) off at 10pm otherwise defendants will call at all hours of the night...Yes I field calls well into the evening when most people get home from work...we never really stop working.

The other phone or phone number 2 is on at all times and when it rings it is a police department or communications center.

The wireless card is used in the vehicle for Internet and to run people for other warrants.

Ok, now lets talk offices....mine takes my entire basement, I need fax machines, desks for warrants, laser printers. I spend a good thousand every month on supplies.

My Internet has to be a business line and is $89.00 a month (I wish $17.99 a month!!). I need a stactic IP address to access Law Enforcement only database skiptracing services which then run me another $425.00 a month just to find people (you don't think they are always at the address on the warrant do you?)

My business overhead just to run my office is a few thousand a month. Heck when gas was creeping close to $5 a gallon I was spending 1600-2000 a month just on gas to drive around!!!

As you can see if you take what I earn and deduct business expenses and ahhh..don't forget uncle sam (taxes), you can now see I earn a modest living.

That is why most constables who earn 6 figures a year would jump to be DJ....the money is more then making those 6 figures because we have to buy everything!

If I was DJ earning 78k a year that would in reality be more then my 131k now.

As for the hours I work 9 hours each day. Sometimes I am up before the crack of dawn to catch the really hard ones who just won't reply no matter what. There are times I am into the night or work night hours as well. I also average 15 - 20 hours of office a week and at the end of the week, if there really is one, I am working about 70 hours a week with this job. Oh, did I forget to mention all the phone calls all the time??

Don't construe this to me griping, I love this job, the freedom and just the profession but I wanted to clarify a few things for most that don't know how it really is.

You see these big paychecks but don't really know what we have to go through to make that kind of money.

Truthfully, most constable do not make what myself or Josh Wagner make because we are workaholics.

I love my job so I don't consider it work, if that makes any sense?

As far as new constables go ... go ahead, run, get elected and spend 20 grand on a vehicle and equipment, get all those insurances, shine those shoes and that fresh duty belt and guess what??

You aren't going to get work as a new constable!! That's right, it's not a guarantee that you get work. Nope, around here good luck.

Every judge has a constable and if that constable leaves there is another constable like myself to take over and you can bet the judge isn't going to hire a new guy with no experience or reputation.

So now you wasted all this time (academy...yes 80hrs but now add 40 for firearms and another 30 for intermediate weapons and you've got some time invested) Money and you got no work.

Welcome to being a constable!!
I think I'll stick to title searching. For excitment, I'll blog. My thanks to Constable Schoenenberger.


Anonymous said...

"The only time a constable is brought up usually is when something that the papers feel is bad. I say "feel" because this always isn't the truth and the paper will report what it wants and what it thinks will sell newspapers."

Comment: Oh Really. Did Constables in south Allentown a few years back shoot and kill a homeowner's dogs or not. Did papers make this up?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, its called self defense...look it up sometime. No criminal charges were ever filed and their actions were justified under the law.

What would you expect...stand their and get bitten by a pack of aggressive dogs?

Anonymous said...

Whats your point? It happened and was a fact. Doesn't make it bad? Cops shoot aggressive dogs all the time.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous,
One dog was running out the back second story window when he was shot in the back. That's aggressive?

Anonymous said...

The family begged the Constables to gather their dogs and put them someplace safe. The Constables came in and shot the dogs.

Anonymous said...

To: 8:30 AM

You stated the papers make things up. You now admit this horrific event happened. Which is it?

Anonymous said...

at least not all Constable's rock a feather blonde mullet and wear a shirt half open, like that racist pig "Dog" on A&E.

And why is he back on AE he calls someone a "nigger" they can him and bring him back!

I think A&E needs to get canned!

Bryan said...

thanks for posting that Bernie. I always find it interesting to hear what goes on behind the scenes. I had no idea that a Constable's job entails all these things. Fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were there and know so much about the dog shooting.

In reality you know NOTHING other then constables shot dogs. Even the crap you are spewing wasn't in the paper....did you just make this up?

It was the constables that ordered the dogs be put away, the occupants put the dogs in a room and then released the dogs to attack.

Let's see the dogs ran down the stairs towards the constable's, they were initially struck at the bottom of the stairs and by the door. They (dogs) continued on into the kitchen where they encountered another constable who then shot.

No dog ever attempted to escape out a window?? Are you sure the dog you aren't referring to wasn't the defendant.

Yeah, it's a bad situation and horrific story but the constable's were justified in using deadly force against the dogs. Did we forget that part?

The law values human life over that of a canine.

If the occupants wouldn't have released the dogs they would still be alive, they can only blame themselves. What did they think the constables would do?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I appreciate hearing it from Constable Schoenenberger, who takes his job seriously.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know those old Police cars bought at auction cost anymore than a few grand at most. The ones I bought were all less than three grand. Please don't be a drama queen.

Anonymous said...


Don't be fooled. He and Wagner don't make that kind of money doing things "legit". If the majority of constables are making about the same, and two guys are out of whack, there's a reason. Aren't all magistrates open the same hours? You don't make that kind of money without padding you fee I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Nice try on that one. Nobody is scamming anyone and I take it personally when some accuses me or constable Wagner of theft.

I've been audited twice last year, once by the county and once by the state.

When you make the kind of money we make you of course are going to be looked at, I never have a problem with that. In fact the county owes me more money for un-billed and submitted cases/dockets!

You need to get a grip if you can't handle the truth that we work our tails off to make that kind of money.

Anonymous said...

You ever hear of a bench warrant?
They can get served outside of normal court hours, no judge needed.

On top of this we can collect fines and costs at the door, this means I can make warrant fees and costs at any time of the day or night.

On days when most constables don't work...(holidays or weekends) I am out because of the workload I have.

I have collected in excess of 15,000 in cash and checks for the court in weekend doing warrant sweeps.

Anonymous said...

No one said anything about theft, maybe they meant technique used? I heard that some constables were charging extra fees too.

Anonymous said...


Take some lessons from "good guys" like Smith, Sigley, Hough, and the Kummer's, they do things right.

-courthouse worker

And before you tell me to go back to work... I don't need to be there until 8:30.

Anonymous said...

The new comment character "KathyD" is really Bernie O'Hare.

So is "The Banker"

"Retired ASD Teacher"

"Politically Neutral"


and countless "anonymous" (wink wink) commenters.

All are Bernie O'Hare.

You are being duped by a master.

Anonymous said...

Comment on Anon 2:14 - hehe

This blog and Molovinski's are absolutely hilarious! Entertaining and shocking, sometimes, but basically empty of any value whatsoever.

How could any good citizen consider anything on these blogs as "fact" or close to being "factual". Just a bunch of "whiners" and "nay-sayers". I'm all for free-speech. I'm just looking for "value" in what I read.

The blogosphere is for connecting and linking. WHERE ARE THE REFERENCES? Embedding a link in a blog post is very simple.

Don't forget Topix comments as well!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I make heavy use of links on most of my posts and back up what I say. This particular blog contains a constable's description of his daily duties, something I've never seen anywhere. If you consider this empty of value, just stop reading it and go back to whatever you were doing.

Anonymous said...

I thought constables get mileage reimbursements. I Rossi is required to keep logs, I sure hope our Constables keep mileage logs?

Are Constables still serving warrants to people who are incarcerated already? It was my understanding that in the past one could serve half a dozen warrants with one trip to the prison and get paid for each warrant.

Do they get paid for warrants picked up, warrants served or both?

I appreciate how much of risky the job could be, however, I do not understand while a work when you want constable makes more than a full time uniformed police officer.

Anonymous said...

I am a former constable who got disgusted with a lot of these guys who are mostly wannabe's who even wear thier badges and duty belts to class on weekend training sessions when they're not even working. (I wondered if they wear them to bed). Also, only a few constables get the majority of the work by old fashion butt kissing.