Surprising Authority of the Local Sheriff

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( – Contrary to what many people, believe a county sheriff and the deputies working beneath them aren’t just another group of police officers. Those who serve under a state or local charter are code enforcement officers, meaning they take on the obligation of ensuring the laws put in place by the executive and legislative branches of government are obeyed. A county sheriff is a bit different.

Sheriff vs. Police Chief

The so-called top cop in any particular jurisdiction is usually put into that position through a process of appointment and confirmation at the head of the department. This is akin to the way presidents of the United States assemble their Cabinet of advisors.

A sheriff, on the other hand, is elected for a set period of time — usually 4 years. They’re put into office by and answer to the citizens rather than being a step removed from them.

Duties of the Office

One of the places you’ll often see a sheriff is within the courtrooms of the County Court of Common Pleas. Their job is to keep things in order so the judges can perform their duties.

Typically, they’re also tasked with operating the prisons/jails within their jurisdiction. Their duties here include making sure only the people who are permitted in the building may enter or keeping control of the inmate population.

Another of their roles, which may seem quite mundane on the surface, but is really quite important, is delivering official court documents. Everybody has the right to know exactly what is happening when they’re part of the case, whether civil or criminal. The official docket must show irrefutable evidence like the affirmation of an officer of the court that they were notified. These might include:

  • A notice of appearance
  • An eviction notice
  • An arrest warrant

The men and women who serve in these positions do so at the direction of a court of competent jurisdiction, not at the behest of a mayor or governor. This means they generally aren’t the ones out patrolling the beat, but they do have the authority to act if they witness a crime being committed or in an emergency situation.

Copyright 2020,

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