Sheriffs enforce laws in areas not covered by municipal police departments. Sheriffs have the exact same responsibilities as police officers. Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs cite people for traffic violations, patrol specified areas, respond to 911 calls, and apprehend suspected criminals. Sheriffs conduct criminal investigations, retrieve evidence, and detain people with arrest warrants. Sheriffs issue subpoenas and summons and sometimes provide security at courtrooms. Sheriffs write reports used in court and keep daily logs.

Occupational activities of a sheriff include the following:

  • Issue arrest warrants and apprehend suspected criminals
  • Issue traffic tickets
  • Investigate suspicious activities
  • Secure courtrooms
  • Patrol specified regions and respond to 911 calls
  • Seize property after court orders are issued
  • Serve summons and subpoenas
  • Transfer jail inmates to hospitals and courtrooms
  • Write reports, maintain daily logs, and keep other records

Deputy sheriffs transport prison inmates to hospitals and courts. Deputies also monitor county jail inmates and have responsibilities similar to corrections officers. They're also assigned various administrative duties.

Basic Requirements
Many municipalities require that a sheriff must first serve as a licensed police officer in the jurisdiction where they want to serve. Basic prerequisites to becoming a police officer (and subsequently sheriff) include having a high school diploma (our equivalent), completing a police academy training program, passing a physical and background check. Topics covered in most police training programs include search and seizure, community policing, filing reports, defensive tactics, evidence gathering, crime scene investigation, effective communications and police vehicle operation.

While some sheriffs aren't in their prime, before you can become a sheriff you must first become a police officer. New police academy cadets are required to pass extensive physical conditioning. If you want to become a police officer, it's highly highly recommended that you get in shape.

Depending on where you want to work, you may be required to earn an associate or bachelor's degree. Sheriffs may also be required to have a college degree. Degrees can be earned in just about any subject, but preferrably in a relevant field such as law enforcement or criminal justice. Areas of study in most undergraduate criminal justice programs include criminal law, criminal theory, investigative procedure, justice system, courts, and patrol operations, among others.

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Getting Appointed
Becoming a sheriff isn't quite as straight forward as becoming a police officer, although to become a sheriff candidates must first become a police officer. In fact, in order to become eligible to run for sheriff, many municipalities require candidates to have at least 3 to 5 years of prior work experience in either law enforcement or a relevant field of criminal justice. The easiest way to fulfill this requirement is by working as a police officer for several years. However, other law enforcement experience, such as judge, magistrate or even corrections officer, is often sufficient.

Unlike police officers who are hired, sheriffs must be elected. Once they've met all the prerequisites they must file paperwork stating they're intent to run for the position of sheriff. Then they organize their election campaign. This may require communicating with the media, advertising, self promotion, writing press releases, finding volunteers to help with the campaign, or even hiring a campaign manager.

Once elected, sheriffs may have to meet several new job requirements. They often swear an oath of loyalty and sign an agreement stating they'll fulfill their duties. If they fail to do so, they may face monetary penalties. Others may be required to complete advanced law enforcement training programs.

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