In England shortly after the Conquest the High Office of Constable appears as the seventh great officer of the crown possessing both civil and criminal powers. Since 1521 the title of High Constable has been granted only for special ceremonies of state, i.e. Coronations etc. Petty or local constables flourished throughout parishes and townships of Great Britain and were an important factor in maintaining the King's peace and keeping good order among his subjects. In the common law, a constable is referred to as a "peace officer" or "conservator of the peace". It was the constables’ duty to protect and maintain the tranquility enjoyed by the citizens of a community where good order reigns among its members. Any intentional violation of which was considered a breach of the peace. Even today police officers throughout the British Empire, its protectorates, and Canada retain the title of constable.
The office of constable was transplanted in Massachusetts's colonial times with the common law. In each of the original communities, the constable was one of the first offices created and was an important factor in maintaining the King's peace in the new land. The constable continues today as a municipal officer
M.G.L. c.41, Section I. The office of municipal and State police however, is not known to the Common law. It is a statutory office and has attaches to it only those powers provided in statute. In Massachusetts relatively few new powers are provided, the more important ones existing through the annexation of the Common law powers of constables with the exception of serving and executing civil process. M.G.L..41, section 98 and M.G.L..22c, Section 10.|41, section 98 confers Constabulary powers on our police. "The Chief and other police officers of all cities and towns shall have all the powers and duties of constables except serving and executing civil process." 22c, section 10 confers these Constabulary powers upon our state police shall have all the powers and duties of constables except serving and executing civil process).
It is interesting to note how the common law office of constable has adapted to the changes in our society until that portion of its powers of preservation of the peace was assimilated into our present say statutory office of police. This transition eliminated the need to create an entirely new office with specifically enumerated powers and duties.