Each jurisdiction dictates how law enforcement professionals qualify to protect their community. A sheriff deputy is a law enforcement professional who works for a county government agency, generally in smaller jurisdictions. In some states, sheriff deputies work for the elected county sheriff. They perform duties similar to those of police officers in larger jurisdictions, but may also act as bailiffs and provide law enforcement services to courts.
The requirements for sheriff deputy occupations vary by jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions require a high school diploma or GED and a valid driver’s license. Applicants must generally be at least 21 years of age and a U.S. citizen. They often require a physical exam to ensure they are physically fit and can endure the physical demands of the job. Many employers also provide training such as use of firearms, apprehension of suspects, law enforcement regulations and physical fitness for sheriff deputies.
Because most sheriff deputies work in small counties or jurisdictions, they generally perform combined responsibilities to protect communities and uphold the law. In larger jurisdictions, they may specialize in specific law enforcement tasks. Protecting the community may include patrolling neighborhoods to prevent crime, investigating crimes, arresting offenders and assisting in rescue activities. They also escort convicted felons to jail and court, and supervise prisoners at county jails.
Because many of the responsibilities of sheriff deputies result in prosecuting criminal suspects in court, they spend a large portion of their time preparing reports for court cases. This includes testifying in court. Sheriff deputies also issue citations, collect evidence from crime scenes and interview witnesses, suspects and others involved in crimes and document their findings.
Careers and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are over 540,000 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working for local jurisdictions. It expects about 7 percent growth for these occupations between 2010 and 2020. Government financial budgets often limit the hiring of sheriff deputies, so growth rates vary greatly across the country. The average salary was $56,160 per year in 2011 for this occupation, according to the Bureau.