What Are the Job Duties of a Sheriff?

The county sheriff is responsible for law enforcement on the county level. A sheriff's deputies carry out most of the law enforcement duties while the sheriff, usually an elected official, manages their activities. This article discusses some of the job duties of the sheriff and his or her deputies. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

The sheriff is employed by the county and is often an elected position. He or she acts in role similar to a police chief in a municipal department. Deputies serve under the sheriff in a role similar to that of uniformed police officers. The sheriff usually has jurisdiction over any unincorporated areas of his or her county.

Duties of the sheriff might include:

  • Investigating complaints
  • Emergency response
  • Patrolling
  • Resolving disputes
  • Arresting suspects
  • Criminal investigation
  • Executing warrants

Specialized Responsibilities

Some sheriffs serve specialized roles as court security or jailers. In a county jail, the sheriff supervises inmates. Court security sheriffs maintain order in the courtroom during a trial. Other sheriffs perform civil duties, such as serving warrants or civil papers, collecting delinquent taxes or fees, carrying out evictions, repossessing property, and testifying during trials.

Job Description and Qualifications

Sheriffs are employed by counties, and their departments tend to be small, often with less than 50 employees. Sheriff's deputies need to be physically fit and should possess a desire to help people. While a college degree is not always required, many sheriff deputies have an associate or bachelor's degree. Since the county sheriff typically serves in an elected position, candidates usually have several years of experience and familiarity within the county.

Employment and Salary Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts that the employment of police and sheriff's patrol officers will likely increase by approximately six percent during the decade spanning from 2012 to 2022. The BLS indicated as recently as May 2012 that the average salary earned by a police or sheriff's patrol officer was $57,770 a year. PayScale.com, however, published in February 2014 that the median annual salary earned by deputy sheriffs was $40,776.

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