Some Common Duties That A Sheriff Will Perform For The Public

The sheriff is the head law enforcement officer for a county. In most states, there are multiple sheriffs who each serve different counties within their respective state. The sheriff’s office is responsible for enforcing all local laws, including traffic violations, as well as the state criminal code, which includes offenses such as murder, arson, kidnapping, rape, assault, robbery and other crimes that may be committed within the sheriff’s county jurisdiction. 

In some states, the sheriff has additional duties and responsibilities regarding the civil process, as well as the court system. For example, the sheriff is also responsible for overseeing elections, maintaining records on prisoners, and handling bail bonds. Most sheriffs’ offices have an elected board of supervisors or commissioners, who oversee and fund the organization. The primary responsibility of the board of supervisors or commissioners is to hire and fire the sheriff, as well as approve any budget requests that the sheriff makes to the county. 

Duties of the Sheriff 

Sheriff’s deputies must complete all required training before they can work at the sheriff’s department. The first few weeks of their employment will usually be spent with classroom instruction, followed by field training. Depending on the particular type of training offered, a deputy may work alone on patrol cars, respond to calls from other law enforcement officers, or assist in investigations. Once fully trained, deputies typically spend the rest of their time working solo patrols, responding to calls from citizens, or conducting investigations. 

While it varies slightly from one county to another, the typical duties of a sheriff’s deputy include performing security checks at courthouses, jails, schools, and hospitals; patrolling high-crime areas; serving warrants or subpoenas; answering telephones; assisting with prisoner transport; transporting prisoners to and from court; and helping to investigate suspicious persons, events, or activities. In addition, the sheriff’s department often assists police departments in major crime scenes, such as homicides and kidnappings. 

In addition to the standard patrol duties listed above, sheriff’s deputies sometimes work for specialized units that focus on specific types of crimes. These units include drug squads, which investigate illegal drug trafficking; vice squads, which deal with prostitution and gambling issues; and gang suppression teams, which target gangs that have been involved in violent crimes. Deputies assigned to these specialized units typically perform undercover operations, conduct surveillance, or make arrests in order to bring down organized crime groups. 

Although the exact duties of a sheriff vary from state to state, many offices have similar functions. The following examples outline the general duties of a sheriff’s department and the corresponding responsibilities. 

Example 1:

A sheriff’s office is investigating a burglary suspect. The sheriff’s office has not yet identified the burglar, but they know the suspect broke into several businesses earlier that day. They believe the burglaries were committed by a man with long hair and a mustache, who wore glasses and a light blue shirt. The sheriff’s office has identified three suspects (two men and a woman) whom they would like to interview about the burglaries. However, they do not know where the suspects live, so they need to ask the public for help. 

What should the sheriff’s office do? 


The sheriff’s office needs to contact the public to find out where the burglars live. After obtaining this information, the sheriff’s office needs to notify the property owners and warn them to be careful when leaving their homes. If possible, the sheriff’s office should provide the property owners with a list of people who the owner should call if the suspects try to return. 

Example 2:

A sheriff’s office is searching for a missing child. The sheriff’s office has received a report that the child was last seen at his home early that morning. The house belongs to the child’s mother, who works nights, and she never hears him come home after dark. She believes he went outside to play during the night, but did not see him. She called her husband, who left work early to search for the boy. When the father arrived at the home, the child was gone. 

What should the sheriff’s office do? 


The sheriff’s office needs to contact the parents of the missing child and inform them of what has happened. The sheriff’s office should ask family members to remain on alert until more information becomes available. The child may have simply wandered off, or the sheriff’s office needs to consider the possibility that the child was abducted. If the child was taken, the sheriff’s office should immediately begin searching for clues, such as fingerprints, tracks, or blood evidence. 

Example 3:

An elderly couple reports to the sheriff’s office that someone broke into their home. The wife says that she heard noises in the house late at night, so she looked out the window to see who was inside. She saw three men standing around the front door. One of the men appeared to be wearing a mask, but she couldn’t tell whether it was a Halloween costume or a disguise. The intruders then kicked one of the doors open, rushed upstairs, and grabbed a pillowcase full of jewelry and cash. They ran away, taking no valuables with them. 

What should the sheriff’s office do? 

Answer: The sheriff’s office should begin searching the area near the victim’s home. They should also check nearby homes to see whether anyone noticed anything suspicious. The sheriff’s office might also want to check the local pawn shops and jewelry stores to see if anyone bought a large amount of gold or silver. 

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While the job description of a sheriff may change from state to state, the overall role and duties of the position remain the same. Many sheriff’s offices receive funding from the county government, while others rely primarily on funding from federal grants. Regardless of the source of funding, however, the sheriff always serves the public interest.