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Career Profile: County Sheriff

Law enforcement officers work on the local, state and national level, performing different types of jobs during the course of the law enforcement career. Sheriffs are law enforcement or police officers who work on a county level providing services to communities and individuals by protecting the safety and property of others. These officers work long hours and face dangerous situations, yet continue to provide a wide range of public services to those who cannot protect themselves.

A county sheriff is not an entry-level position, but a competitive job that has specific educational, physical and psychological requirements. While many sheriff departments are smaller than urban police departments, the ability of law enforcement officers to perform the functions of the job are no less stringent. Most departments require a sheriff to have at least a college-level degree in criminal justice, law enforcement or other applicable degree. These local law enforcement agencies also rely on physical and psychological testing, in addition to an age requirement of at least 21 years of age. Many county sheriffs are elected by the local population, and as such, the sheriff must be able to interact on a personal and professional level and work well within a community.

County sheriffs must be able to work in various situations within the community they are sworn to protect. These officers may be called during criminal investigations, domestic disputes, and may also be seen patrolling neighborhoods or communities, establishing a presence that assures public concerns about safety. Many sheriffs also work in more specialized capacities, including public and media relations, administration or even within the court system. In smaller or rural communities, sheriffs may be tasked with transporting criminals to and from jails, testifying in court, providing bailiff services, and even working within the jail in a corrections capacity. Sheriffs may also become spokespeople and educators for community programs that help educate the public about programs or other legal and public policy-related agendas as defined by local law.

The job of a county sheriff is as varied as the communities in which they work. These men and women face different challenges than those in an urban police department, yet are typically required to have the same type of police training and education. County sheriffs are hard-working and dedicated people who serve the community gladly, seeking to give citizens peace of mind and security, protecting the rights of those who are unable to protect themselves.

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