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What is a Constable?

by Kristin Higgins - May 11, 2022

Updated Blog Post

Are you looking at your sample ballot for the Nov. 8 Arkansas election? There are a lot of jobs on the ballot that people might not know what they do.

Today we highlight the job of a constable.

Constables in Arkansas

Constables are often overlooked as an elected official, though they are one of the positions established by the Arkansas Constitution. You might actually never come into contact with your constable, who are mostly unpaid members of the law enforcement community.

The role of constable goes back to a time when Arkansas was less populated, more rural and difficult to travel. Constables helped keep the peace by patrolling townships, an area smaller than a city.

Not to be confused with established towns, townships were legal boundaries used to establish voting precincts. Arkansas still has townships but not many people in Arkansas are familiar with the concept as cities have grown and sheriff departments have expanded. Township boundaries still come into play when a community holds a vote on whether to allow alcohol sales, and when voting on constables.

There have been efforts to eliminate this position but no constitutional amendment has been approved for the ballot.

There are fewer constables in Arkansas now days than there used to be. County Judges have the legal authority to reduce the number of townships, effectively reducing the number of constable positions. Several have done so, and the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2020 upheld a decision to do so in Washington County.

Term in Office: A constable serves a two-year term. The Quorum Court can set their salary but most do not allocate any funding for this position. Constables pay for their equipment out of pocket and most do not have county assistance or office space. 

Eligibility Requirements:

  • United States citizen
  • At least 18 years old
  • Registered to vote in their county and in their township
  • No fraud or felony convictions

Job Duties:

Over their two-year term, a constable has the same law enforcement authority as a sheriff in their township. They have arrest power, can write citations, and respond to accidents. 

A 2007 law, however, placed training requirements on constables if they wanted to carry a gun on duty and have access to the Arkansas Crime Information Center. State law also requires them to wear uniforms while on duty and label any patrol vehicle with "Arkansas Constable" on it. They are required to turn over any fines collected from citations to the county.

Under state law, they no longer have authority to appoint deputies. They are required to keep records of any citations and administrative records, similar to requirements placed on sheriffs.

Look at Your November Ballot

Early voting starts Oct. 24 and Election Day is Nov. 8. Find out what is on your ballot at the Arkansas Secretary of State's VoterView website,

Use our 2022 Arkansas Ballot Issues Voter Guide to learn about the constitutional amendments on this year's ballot.

Additional Reading

Arkansas Constable Association

List of Arkansas townships