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Constable Reform and accountability in limelight following prisoner Daniel Preziosi escape

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 17 2013 05:03:15 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 17 2013 06:46:54 PM CST

It's not known yet whether the constables who were escorting Daniel Preziosi when Preziosi escaped will face any kind of disciplinary action.

It's not known yet whether the constables who were escorting Daniel Preziosi when Preziosi escaped will face any kind of disciplinary action.

Constables are elected officials who serve 6 year terms.

They work with magistrate courts, have the power to arrest and have to be certified.

But many say the officials answer to no-one and want that changed.

"I went to get vehicle from the back of the building to the front. Next thing I knew he's running out the back," Constable Jose Garcia told us.

He was one of two state constables escorting Daniel Preziosi and two other suspects, when the Preziosi, 24, escaped out of his handcuffs and shackles and ran off Monday morning in Nazareth. Garcia says the man greased his hands and feet with a lubricant.

"When would he have done that?" I asked Garcia.

"When he was in the holding area (of the prison)" Garcia stated.

Preziosi was found Tuesday by police and it's not known if the constables will be held accountable. But there's been talk of more accountability from constables for years.

"This is not unique to Northampton County. It is a problem statewide and some constables exceed their authority and believe they are police officers. The PA legislature is going to have to take a look at this because they seem to report to nobody," said Northampton County D.A. John Morganelli in 2012 after investigating a case involving constables accused of using excessive force. Those men were cleared.

However in 2008 an Associated Press report showed the system has been plagued with misbehavior.

From homicide to sexual assault and theft, the report described how Pennsylvania constables have been involved in dozens of case misconduct.

Currently state legislators are conducting a yearlong study of constable behavior and who should hold them accountable.

The head of the Pennsylvania Constable Association admits better oversight could help but says it shouldn't be up to legislators telling 69 News a county's President Judge is the one constables answer to.

"It could happen to anybody, law enforcement or to another constable or any other type of agency out there," Garcia explained.

Northampton County's President Judge Stephen Baratta said Monday's incident was unacceptable and he does want better procedures in place during prisoner transports.