Tuesday, December 24, 2019


One of the most common questions I get asked while I am in uniform is “What’s the Difference Between a Sheriff’s Office and Police Department.” So the topic of discussion today will be exploring some of the differences between the two type of agencies. It should be initially stated that both are legitimate Law enforcement agencies with the EXACT SAME arrest authority and majority of the time the EXACT SAME training. I have worked for both a Police Department and a Sheriff’s Office so I feel like I can break down some of the myths out there….

Let’s start with the similarities; Sheriff’s Deputies and Police Officers are both sworn personnel, meaning they both took an Oath of Office at one point that said they will enforce the laws and uphold the public trust. Both entities attend police academy and maintain proficiency with multiple weapon platforms throughout their careers. 

Both agencies have a rank system in place that is recognized throughout the county (i.e. Sergeant, Lieutenant, etc.). Both Officers and Deputies are required to maintain a certain level of education and training throughout their careers. Both attend Court on the regular basis and both agencies conduct investigations. Both entities care about the citizens.

The overall point when it comes to the similarities is that both are Law enforcement officials and they have the same arrest authority under the color of law. 
Now for the differences; a Sheriff’s Office is led by a Sheriff who is elected into office every four (4) years by the citizens governed under his/her jurisdiction. On the other hand, a Police Department is led by a Police Chief who is selected via a Panel or Board of Supervisors. 

The Sheriff’s boss are the people directly and he/she only has to answer to the Governor of the state where he operates. The Police Chief answers to the Board of Supervisors, and only truly has to answer to the County Administrator or entity that the local government has selected to oversee his position. The Sheriff is always looked upon as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer because they are elected and Constitutional in title. A Sheriff’s Office can oversee several Towns and Counties if needed, however a Police Department usually is restricted to a single town or county in jurisdiction. 

The Sheriff’s Deputies can transport convicted criminals, Police Officers cannot. Sheriff’s Deputies attend additional training granting them certifications in Civil Process, Court Security, and Jailing operations. Police Officers do not. 

Again, the overall point to this is that both are Law enforcement officials in nature. However, to put it simply Sheriff’s Deputies are basically super Police Officers. They can do everything a Police Officer can do and a little more. 

Both play a crucial part when it comes to the judicial system in place throughout the United States. People tend to think of one as better than the other, but at the core they are both the same. This was just a short series of examples to aid in exploring the differences between the two entities, there is obviously so much more that goes into it…but that is a topic for another day…

Police? Sheriff? What’s the Difference?