What your Sheriff's Office does. We, as mature citizens of this great State of Alabama, know that there is a Sheriff's Office comprised of a Sheriff and his deputies in each county, as set out by our state constitution. However, in a recent survey, we found that a very small percentage of the public really knew exactly what the Sheriff's Office does.
To gain a better understanding of it all, let's start at the beginning. The word "Sheriff" is of English derivation, a contraction of the words "shire" (county" and "reeve" (an agent of the king). Remember the Sheriff of Nottingham? He and his counterparts weren't very popular, were they? They held office either because their father did, or they received what was termed "royal appointment" - based not on abilities, but instead by what particular favors they had done for the crown. Their remuneration depended upon how much taxes they collected - so you can readily understand what their principal duty was and why they resorted in some cases to less that ethical methods of collection.
You can also appreciate today's Sheriff and his organization for what they do to help turn the wheels of civilization - which, without proper law enforcement, would most certainly become a jungle!
The following material is set forth to give you a basic idea of how the typical Sheriff and his deputies function. For the most part, these are not steadfast duties of functions because you must remember that all counties differ in size, economic status and problems. However, the name and the game are the same.
Before we get involved with the duties of the office, we should gain an understanding about what it takes to become a deputy...that is, how he or she can qualify for the job.
An applicant to be eligible for appointment must:
1. Be not less than twenty-one years of age.
2. Be certified by a licensed physician, designated by the Sheriff, as in good health and physically fit for the performance of the duties of the law enforcement officer.
3. Have graduated and received a regular or advanced high school diploma or its equivalent. A certificate of high school equivalency (GED) is acceptable.
4. Be a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State of Alabama.
5. Have a current, valid Alabama driver's license.
6. Be free from any physical, emotional, or mental condition that might adversely affect the performance of duties, determined by a physician's examination.
7. Be of good moral character and reputation.
8. Have no criminal record at all, except for minor traffic violations.
9. Not, by reason of conscience or belief, be opposed to the use of force when appropriate or necessary to fulfill the required duties.
10. Meet all Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training requirements.
11. Pass a rigid background investigation.
Assuming that all requirements have been met, and the applicant becomes a member of that Sheriff's Office, he then embarks on a never ending voyage of education to better professionalize his chosen field.
He/she is first taught that the Sheriff's is a service office, which requires a high degree of tact in the handling of complaints, information, and emergency calls. Few compliments and many derogatory remarks will come his way; mainly because of the type of service the office is rendering. He or she must be able to roll with the punches and continue to perform their duties in a diligent and meaningful manner. It is also the duty of every member of the office to do his or her best to stop any and all rumors or derogatory remarks heard about the office or any officer of the organization. They must constantly search for and implement better ways in which to serve.
During this time of social unrest, versatility is the backbone of the organization. The ability to adjust and change with the times, along with additional education and training, which must be more diversified than it has been in the past, are the only things that can now reduce the frustration of the officers and the mistrust of the populace they serve.
As an office grows in size and responsibility, it becomes necessary to establish uniform procedures that serve as a guide in the discharge of its duties. The purpose of this standardization is not to restrict or handicap its members, but rather to enable the office to become more efficient in its wide range of duties with a minimum amount of effort.
Ours is a service office and we are constantly in contact with the public. The impressions of the Sheriff's Office depend upon the attitudes of each individual of this organization. We must continue to perform our duties in such a way that we do not antagonize, if at all possible. If we, as deputy sheriffs, hope to upgrade our professions and continue to grow, we must first "sell" people it serves. We must maintain a constant vigilance against routine, set patterns, and boredom. To become lax is to take a step backward. Instead, let us as individuals combine our knowledge and look for better ways in which to serve.
Today's Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of his county by virtue of public acclaim, in the form of election every four years by the eligible voting populace of his county. His chief deputy is appointed by the Sheriff to help him with his duties and act as chief coordinator.
In most offices, the Sheriff's personnel are unique in that all functions of the office are performed by any deputy, whether the assignment be in the corrections field, the court system, or the law enforcement division. For example, he may act as a bailiff or a jailer, transport a prisoner, serve a civil process, or patrol a road, all in the same day. It is for this reason the Sheriff's Office operates in such a smooth manner and on such an economical scale, resulting in great benefit to the taxpayers. Yes indeed, the members of the Sheriff's Office wear many hats in the fulfillment of their daily duties.
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