Maricopa County will formalize an unwritten policy today requiring deputy constables, who serve paperwork such as eviction notices and orders of protection, to be certified police officers.
For some time, the county has followed an informal practice of hiring certified police officers, usually retired ones, to serve as deputy constables.
Six of seven currently employed carry the certification.
The one who isn’t certified has been an employee for 20 years, said David Alster, the executive assistant for the county’s 23 elected constables.
Elected sheriffs and constables are exempt from certification by the state’s police regulatory agency, the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, said AZPOST Executive Director Tom Hammarstrom.
However, sheriff’s deputies have to be certified by AZPOST while deputy constables don’t, Hammarstrom said.
The office of constable comes from the state’s territorial days.
There are 23 in Maricopa County, and they work out of justice courts. They serve court documents such as criminal and civil subpoenas and juror summonses, seize property to satisfy judgments, and provide court security.
When serving eviction notices, constables and their deputies often find
methamphetamine labs and apartments filled with stolen goods.
They also have to deal with emotionally charged situations that often include suicidal people, Alster said.
“They’re situations a police officer can handle better,” Alster said.
AZPOST provides mandatory training for newly elected constables in process serving, conflict resolution and firearm safety. They are required to attend at least eight hours of additional training each year.
To be AZPOST certified is more intensive.
An applicant must undergo background checks, a polygraph test, a medical exam and minimum of 585 hours training at a police academy.