Sheriff deputies generally perform the same law enforcement duties as police officers including patrol, responding to complaints and emergency calls, enforcing traffic laws and writing reports. They may also provide security services in courthouses and jails. Unlike police officers who most often are city employees, sheriff deputies have jurisdiction in the overall county, excepting incorporated municipalities.
Law Enforcement Duties
Deputies patrol their assigned post, respond to complaints and enforce federal, state and local laws. In addition, they investigate criminal complaints, which includes interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence and arresting perpetrators. They also enforce traffic laws and investigate accidents and hazardous road conditions throughout the county. Deputies must complete reports of all activities and investigations.
Other Patrol Responsibilities
Sheriff deputies also have to testify in court when a case goes to trial. In addition, they provide community services such as checking the welfare of senior citizens upon request and transporting mental patients to medical facilities. Unlike city police officers, sheriff deputies also serve civil papers including subpoenas and summonses.
Sheriff Deputies in Prisons
In some counties, sheriff deputies are assigned to prisons where they maintain security of the detention center and ensure the custody and safety of inmates. Deputies must process prisoners when they enter and are released from the facility, perform searches of inmates and their cells, and escort prisoners to see visitors and attorneys. In addition, deputies respond to emergency situations including fights and medical emergencies.
Departments require each applicant to have at least a high school diploma or GED, although some departments give preference or extra pay for deputies with college education. Some departments require deputies to be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver's license. In addition, recruits must pass a written exam, fitness test and be medically cleared to meet the physical demands of law enforcement training.
Law Enforcement Training
Deputies must complete law enforcement officer training at a state or local facility where they acquire extensive knowledge of the state, federal and local laws they are tasked with enforcing. In addition, they receive training in defensive tactics, arrest techniques, first aid and driving. Deputies then receive field training from an experienced officer and continue to attend training courses throughout their careers to maintain skills and knowledge of law.
Deputies on patrol spend much of their time in a vehicle. They are expected to work assigned shifts which often include nights, weekends and holidays. Deputies come into frequent contact with the public and encounter dangerous and stressful situations during emergencies, investigations and arrests. They must stay calm to control the situation.
Pay and Benefits
Each county determines the salary range and available benefits for sheriff deputies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary for deputies is $58,720, as of May 2013. Deputies in California receive the highest wages, earning a mean annual salary of $86,040 while deputies in Macon, Georgia, earn only $34,290 per year. Deputies may also receive a comprehensive benefits package including health insurance, holiday and overtime pay, paid time off and a uniform allowance.
- Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office: Job Description - Deputy Sheriff
- Sheriff's Office Washington County, Wisconsin: What Does A Deputy Sheriff Do?
- Mono County Sheriff - Coronor: Deputy Sheriff
- Marion County Sheriff's Office: Deputy Sheriff Job Description
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Police and Detectives
- National Sheriffs' Association: Frequently Asked Questions
- Photo Credit NoahBryant/iStock/Getty Images
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