Pittsburgh Housing Authority wants co...

Pittsburgh Housing Authority wants constables on patrol

There are 48 comments on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story from Oct 5, 2010, titled Pittsburgh Housing Authority wants constables on patrol. In it, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that:

The Pittsburgh Housing Authority wants to use state constables to patrol its housing projects, under supervision by city police.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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Oscaw

Pittsburgh, PA

#1 Oct 5, 2010
Does anyone else have an issue with this? Constables have neither the authority nor jurisdiction to "patrol" anything. They can only arrest on warrants or for on view felonies...the same power afforded to any citizen of the commonwealth. If Magisterial District Judges authorize their Constables this authority then it undermines the need for a professional Police department and oversteps the authority granted the judges themselves.
Constables have less training, no body of oversight (such as the City Police management provide) and are the same as putting private security in place to patrol the housing projects. If there is a problem with "trust" of the Police by the residents of the housing authority, how bad will it be with an unsupervised body of Officers? City Officers are better trained, managed and equipped.
Rather than attempt to patch a leak in the dam with a "bubble gum" fix that stretches the borders of legality in order to pinch a few pennies, wouldn't the City be better served to address the underlying issues of community relations and police trust? One way to do this is by hiring more Officers and assigning them to the project areas to be the face of the Department to those housing areas. Disbanding the housing authority Police department only worked if you replace those assigned Officers with full time, permanently assigned City Officers to take their place. But as is so often the case...lets remove services and increase taxes, and then wonder why things don't work.
Didn't we learn anything by what happened with Blackwater and the Iraqi mission? Private contractors, hired for police and security details always work flawlessly and without incident. Letís get them to patrol the projects!
absolutely correct

Pittsburgh, PA

#2 Oct 6, 2010
Oscaw wrote:
Does anyone else have an issue with this? Constables have neither the authority nor jurisdiction to "patrol" anything. They can only arrest on warrants or for on view felonies...the same power afforded to any citizen of the commonwealth. If Magisterial District Judges authorize their Constables this authority then it undermines the need for a professional Police department and oversteps the authority granted the judges themselves.
Constables have less training, no body of oversight (such as the City Police management provide) and are the same as putting private security in place to patrol the housing projects. If there is a problem with "trust" of the Police by the residents of the housing authority, how bad will it be with an unsupervised body of Officers? City Officers are better trained, managed and equipped.
Rather than attempt to patch a leak in the dam with a "bubble gum" fix that stretches the borders of legality in order to pinch a few pennies, wouldn't the City be better served to address the underlying issues of community relations and police trust? One way to do this is by hiring more Officers and assigning them to the project areas to be the face of the Department to those housing areas. Disbanding the housing authority Police department only worked if you replace those assigned Officers with full time, permanently assigned City Officers to take their place. But as is so often the case...lets remove services and increase taxes, and then wonder why things don't work.
Didn't we learn anything by what happened with Blackwater and the Iraqi mission? Private contractors, hired for police and security details always work flawlessly and without incident. Letís get them to patrol the projects!
Agreed 100%
John D

Washington, PA

#3 Oct 17, 2010
Why don't the Allegheny County Housing Authority Police Patrol the City Projects? I See their cars all around the county.
Grace 1950

Washington, PA

#4 Oct 17, 2010
I think they only patrol the projects owned by Allegheny County. I can't see why they can't do the city ones too.
rasul aquil

Fort Washington, PA

#5 Oct 26, 2010
I am a Pa State Constable,
I am also a former police officer certified under act 120. The Pa. Crimes Code title 17 is very clear that A constable has the power to enforce the crimes code and he/she is authorized by the magistrate to conduct investigations that may lead to prosecution. Although Pa. state constables are not permitted to have emergency vehicle lights in their vehicle, The Pa. state constable is also empowered to enforce certain sections of the Pa. Vehicle code title 75. Most people do not realize that even a police officer cannot arrest you for a misdemeanors they did not see. they must obtain a warrant. the powers of a constable are the same as a police officer. The difference is a constable is not paid a salary. He/she is paid for each task performed. It is not uncommon for constables to compliment police departments that are short on man power. If you think about it, the sherrifs office at one time was not permitted to enforce the vehicle code. However the supreme court ruled that if a law enforcement officer is trained, they can enforce. I agree that the constable training act 49 is not as intense as act 120. However, its what the state of Pa. has mandated. The powers of the constable comes from the excutive branch of the Commonwealth of Pa. Contrary to popular belief Pa. State constables are Law enforcement officers empowered to enforce the law.
lead inspector

Media, PA

#6 Nov 10, 2010
Agree 100% Rasul Aquil i'm a PA constable and patrolled my area this halloween with the local police but i do have 10 years in other law enforcement. Alot of people don't want to know what a constable can do, but they sure can say what they can't.
Salsa Meat

Morgantown, WV

#7 Nov 12, 2010
Constables DO NOT have the authority to provide security patrol in any housing projects, such as City Housing Authority. NOWHERE in Act 49 that was signed into law by the Governor in 2009 even remotely given Constables this authority to provide security at a housing project. Constables are classified as agents of the minor judiciary system. And the only locations where they can provide security is in a courtroom or at an election poll on Election Day. The fact that people have found a way to misinterpret the law for their benefit is mind boggling. Constables should go back to their bosses, the District Judges, and do the work they were elected or sworn to do such as for example serve warrants.
lead inspector

Media, PA

#8 Nov 13, 2010
Just read the law they would be working for the housing authority if a constable(law enforcement officer) can contract with a police dept to serve pfa warrant or any other warrant for that matter with training in patrolling they can't contract with a city(government) housing authority? If you can show me in law where a constable can't it maybe best to just say you don't want constables doing it but don't say the law states they can't without backing it up.
Salsa Meat

Morgantown, WV

#9 Nov 14, 2010
I have read the law and the law clearly states that you must possess a private detective license in order to perform security services. This is the problem with COnstables, they interpret the law for their own use. IF, it was NOT against the law, why does the Housing Authority require you to have a private security license? Have you even read Act 49? Read it again - NOTHING is in there that even closely grants this authority to Constable. We can do this all day. And all day I will prove my point over and over. I have nothing against Constables. But they need to stick to what they were elected or appointed to do - work for the minor court system.
lead inspector

Media, PA

#10 Nov 14, 2010
So police can do private security by law in uniform?
if so show me and she me were constable cant work for a part of government on a contract this is not hard every law has a RULE or a BILL NUMBER or a SECTION i only want one that say a constable can't by law provide this service to a housing auth we are not talking about working for a night club.
Salsa Meat

Morgantown, WV

#11 Nov 14, 2010
Since you mentioned police - the answer is no - its not legal. Where does it say in Act 49, House Bill 1607 that says a Constable can perform security services other than preserving peace at an election poll or in a courtroom? However it clearly states in Title 22, Private Detective Act of 1953 the following: "No person, partnership, association or corporation, shall engage in the business of private detective, or the business of investigator, or the business of watch, guard or patrol agency, for the purpose of furnishing guards or patrolmen or other persons to protect persons or property, or to prevent the theft or the unlawful taking of goods, wares and merchandise, or to prevent the misappropriation or concealment of goods, wares, merchandise, money, bonds, stocks, documents, and other articles of value, for hire or reward, or advertise his or their business to be that of detective, or of a detective agency, or investigator, or watch, guard or patrol agency, notwithstanding the name or title used in describing such agency, or notwithstanding the fact that other functions and services may also be performed for fee, hire or reward, without having first obtained a license so to do as hereinafter provided.Ē This same law holds true for police officers. But police departments, of course, are pushing the envelope as well on their "special details". You never answered my question on, if this was so legal, in contracting with Constables, why is the Housing Authority requring the bidder to have a private security license, requiring the "Constable" to wear the security company's uniform, requiring the "Constable" to be Act 235, and requiring the "Constable" to be an employee of the licensed security company? Interesting - wouldn't you agree?
lead inspector

Media, PA

#12 Nov 14, 2010
it would be to preserve the peace read act 49 constables have criminal arrest power statewide on-view and civil power countywide the only different is a PA citizen is not a certified law enforcement officer.
Salsa Meat

United States

#14 Nov 14, 2010
Preserve the peace, but not in a security setting? Did you read any part of my post? This so called hiring of Constables for the Housing Authority is not really hiring Constables. Constable powers do not transfer over to Act 235 work. You sound like all the other Constables out there who pick and choose certain parts of the law and with no understanding of it use it to their advantage. Again, I call your attention to my post - Housing Authority is still hiring 235 officers, but feel for whatever reason, probably because they have some side deals with constables, that only Constables whose powers WILL NOT transfer over to work the housing authority.

“That's Un-Possible!”

Since: Jan 08

Brookhaven Hamlet, Long Island

#15 Nov 15, 2010
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beware! DO NOT WATCH!
CONST--able

Apollo, PA

#16 Nov 15, 2010
There ar Thousands of warrants sitting in District Judges offices across the state. Start doing your job and go out to exicute these warrants. Stop trying to take on more ( easy money jobs ). Do the job you were elected to do. I know this is going to end up in court & the constables are going to come up short when all the facts are presented. I serve warrants and make money. Stop trying to be security agents. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. THE TIME OF THE FREE LUNCH IS OVER. GIVE UP YOUR POSITION AS CONSTABLE OR GET ACT 235 CERTIFICATION IF YOU WANT TO DO ACT 235 CERTIFICATION WORK. FRATERNALY YOURS.

Since: Nov 10

Morgantown, WV

#18 Nov 15, 2010
Finally a Constable to speak the truth! Complete and utter nonsense that these Constables can't do the job they were elected to do. Instead they need to go out play security guard and trick people into believing they are legal. What's going to happen when one of these Constables shoot someone? Who is going to pick up the tab for these guys who carry at best $500,000 worth of insurance? The courts have already determined that Constables are not employees of the state, so therefore they don't enjoy the same legal defense benefits that a police officer may have. It's an abuse of an elected office to go out and do what they are doing.
Retired Constable

Dayton, OH

#19 Nov 15, 2010
Constables get training every year in this and the law does not change. Title 22 states it all. These Constables are in fact breaking the law and need to be removed from office. You want to play Consable serve your warrants, you want to play security get your act 235 and go to warm for a licensed agency. I know of no Constable that has made an arrest, filled the complaint, took anyone in front of a judge and had him put in jail. No they had to always detain them and have the Police do the work. What kind of powers do Constables really have? NONE
ConstableinPA

Pittsburgh, PA

#20 Nov 15, 2010
I have read through all of these post and many people have tried to change the law or reword the law with his or her own spin, here is the truth. Constables powers are given to him or her per the statue we are member of the executive branch of government so the magistrates do not give us our powers either. We are NOT permitted to run traffic even if we are taught title 75 of of the crimes code, if you are running lights in your POV please let me introduce you to Trooper Marks. Next, Constables are not permitted to work private security details without a PA ACT 235 Card, If you dont understand this read PA ACT 235. This does not only apply to constables but also Police Officer, State Troopers, and any other Law Enforcement Agency even Federal agencies. How do Pittsburgh Police do it? There assignment are schedule through the Special Events Department and that is how they work the bars, night clubs, and even traffic duty. Now to constable training. The constable training we get is great but just not enough. I think if we had more hours of training we would be better prepared. Now with saying that, even though someone went through the ACT 120 (police academy) I do not think that means they are better officers then some constables. I think there are some great constables out there but the are also some back constables that is with anything. So inconclusion, you must have a 235 card to work private security details and constables arent all bad...
Salsa Meat

Canada

#21 Nov 16, 2010
As a follow up to the last post, even though you have 235 card you still must possess a private detective/security license to do private security. Or work for a licensed security agency. Since Constables are prohibited to possess a license, then they must work for someone as a 235 officer not as a Constable.
constableinpa

Canonsburg, PA

#22 Nov 16, 2010
Salsa meat,

This is correct with a few exception, because we carry our own insurance that would cover us in a incident we are able to work within private property as 235 officers. In addition it is up to the property owner to maintain enough insurance to protect there business or establishment from lawsuits. You are right that we as constables can not be both constable and private detectives.
Salsa Meat wrote:
As a follow up to the last post, even though you have 235 card you still must possess a private detective/security license to do private security. Or work for a licensed security agency. Since Constables are prohibited to possess a license, then they must work for someone as a 235 officer not as a Constable.

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