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Why do we have Sheriff's and Policemen?
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Why do we have Sheriff's and Policemen?

What's the big difference between the Sheriff Dept, The Police Dept, The Constable and so forth? I mean why do we need that many different names for law enforcers and which ones out rank the other one?


Glen B
Sheriff's have jurisdiction over the entire county. Police departments usually have jurisdiction within city limits. Constables basically serve as paper pushers serving warrants or other legal documents.

It's jurisdictional. New York has the NYPD, but it also has the Sheriff. They handle different things. Sheriffs usually denote a county, Police Department usually denotes a city, and State Police cover the entire state. Some departments supersede others due to jurisdictional limits and contracts.

Then you have Fedral law enforcement such as Marshalls, FBI and so on.

No law against it.

alex m
A sheriff patrols the county,a police Officer patrols the city,and a Constable is similar to the Sheriff Department.

Police officer, sheriff, constable, etc. are just names used in different jurisdictions to label their law enforcement people. Police usually operate witin the city limits, sheriffs usually control a county, constables usually operate within city law enforcement, but as a sub entity. In some cities, the title of Marshal still exist, just like in the old west. Places like Texas, and Kansas probably have Marshals.

Police serve cities, towns, and villages. Sheriffs serve counties and parishes. State police serve entire states. Constables tend to serve small jurisdictions, typically rural parts of counties.

Robert S
State police
Local police
Local constable

This is the typical order of authority.
Each is investigated by the upper if need be. With the exception of the State. But each has their own duties.
State patrol state highways and assist local and Sheriff depts.
Sheriff provides court security, jails, and county law enforcement also assists with local waterway rescue, search and rescue and patrol.
Local police do local stuff and are more in touch with the local community.

The Sheriffs office takes care of the county, the Police Dept. Takes care of the city, State police takes care of the whole state. They have so many different agencies because one agency cant be in 13 different places at once. It would also be very chaotic.

The different agencies serve different types of jursidictions.

The Sheriff's Dept. has county wide jurisdiction. They do the same duties as a city cop, except they police in un-incorporated areas or in towns too small to have a police force. Deputies generally don't work vehicle accidents -- that is the state police's (or highway patrol's) job. The Sheriff's Office is also responsible for serving civil papers and enforcing court ordered writs. They sometimes transport inmates when the are transferred after sentencing (if they are in a small county that doesn't have a seperate transportation division)
A Police Department is a municipal agency that only has jurisdiction within the city limits of that city. They do not serve civil papers or enforce writs. A city cop does enforce city ordinances and tend to do more civil standby type of things that a sheriff's office won't do (custody exchanges or keeping order in an ugly break up while one of them moves out of the house). City cops work vehicle accidents of course.
State police (or highway patrol) have state wide jurisdiction. They handle mostly traffic offenses and vehicle accidents on non-incorporated county roads or on the highways. They usually assist the county deputies or city cops if there is a large incident or if they are in the area when there is something going on. They are usually better trained and better paid than the less populous county deputies or smaller city cops (depending on the location). They are usually the ones the smaller agencies call for assistance during an "oh sh*t" situation like a bomb threat, an active shooter, a barricaded subject or large area man hunt. They transport anyone they arrest to the county jail of the county where the arrest took place.
In the area where I live and work, we don't have constables.

1st Buzie
Because we have bad guys running around breaking laws

Kenneth C
Different agencies serve different needs. A police department on the city level will do all the traditional patrol work.

A sheriff's department will run the jail, deal with civil judgments, paper service and patrol unincorporated areas.

No Law Enforcement agency outranks any others.

Steven C
We have a sheriff department to patrol the rural areas that don't have their own police department.

luv them horse's
You have some good answers, all ready ,, Sheriff are for the county and Police or for the city ,,Constables are the one who serves warrants to persons that are issued by the court and they have a tough job because they have to serve papers to people who most likely don't want to go to court , Any way hope this helps ..

Rob C
The sherriff regulates the jails. Sheriff's are countywide as where police departments are city wide.

In the old world, "shires" are like our counties here in the U.S. The "shire reeve" was the local law enforcement. Our term sheriff comes from that term, so it usually refers to a county law enforcement official.

Basically, the various terms are simply regional preferences or customs, often harking back to old terms.

343 Remember
The reason for the different titles is not for fashion.. it has to do with jurisdiction, responsibility etc.

Police - these are city, with city jurisdiction; however various sting operations etc. may be coordinated with the Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff - these are county, in charge of the jails etc. The Sheriff has jurisdiction throughout the county; however if there is a large metropolitan city in that county it is normal that the Sheriff respects the Chief of Police and therefore does not storm in that city without notice of courtesy.
In smaller towns the Sheriff and their Deputies ARE the Police.

It is important that people know the difference. Many times people have a comment about something i.e. that too many names or titles are a waste; however ONCE you know the different responsibilities, it makes more sense.

Thank you for asking this question.

I hope after you talk with your local Law Enforcement agency and educate yourself more on the Law Enforcement in your area.. you will have a better appreciation.

The TRUE waste of titles is when you go into a store and the first employee you bring your return to.. says that they are on a Break.. the next one tells you that they are not in Returns and the last person you find before giving up.. can't speak English.. so you leave.. with whatever you wanted to return in the first place.

A Law Enforcement Officer on or off-duty has to respond to a crime in progress. Even in another jurisdiction a Law Enforcement Officer has to react somehow. Law Enforcement Officers have to learn several languages. because it appears that many people do not feel the need to learn English.

I wonder how smoothly Corporate America would run.. if we all had the same expectations and responsibilities as Law Enforcement Officers... but it's not my job to speculate :) haha

I wish you well.

They are all different names for different policemen because they are really different people. They are all law enforesers but they do it in different ways.

I think police are local and Sheriff cover like the entire state or have jurisdiction there.

To enforce the law. aalllrriiiigghhhtttt

theyre different ranks

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