Constable

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Unless it has voted to appoint a constable, the town shall elect a first constable and may vote to elect a second constable. 17 V.S.A. §§ 2646(7), 2651a. The constable is a law enforcement officer, as defined by § 54(c)(6) of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure, and as such has the authority to arrest, and has powers of search and seizure within the town. 24 V.S.A. § 1931. A constable may also serve criminal or civil process. 12 V.S.A. § 691. He or she may:

  • Destroy unlicensed dogs, following the requirements of 20 V.S.A. §§ 3621–3623;
  • Kill injured deer (10 V.S.A. § 4749);
  • Assist the health officer in the discharge of his or her duties (18 V.S.A. § 617);
  • Serve as a district court officer (24 V.S.A. § 296); and
  • Remove disorderly persons from town meeting (17 V.S.A. § 2659).

When no tax collector is elected, the first constable becomes the collector of state, county, town and town school district taxes (24 V.S.A. § 1529).

Vermont law requires a basic training course of a minimum of forty-five hours for a part-time law enforcement officer. The definition of "part-time law enforcement officer" specifically includes "a constable who exercises law enforcement powers." 20 V.S.A. § 2358. However, section (d) of that section states that the basic training is optional for any elected official. Notwithstanding these sections of Title 20 of the statutes, a town may vote (a) to prohibit constables from exercising any law enforcement authority or (b) to prohibit constables from exercising any law enforcement authority without having successfully completed a course of training under Chapter 151 of Title 20. 24 V.S.A. § 1936a. The jurisdiction of a constable is limited to the boundaries of his or her town or city.