Difference Between Police Dept and Sheriff’s Dept (With Table)

Law enforcement includes monitoring the civilians to make sure no one commits an act of crime and breaks the law, and also to bring the criminal activity under control by using the powers bestowed on the law enforcement officers. Both the Police dept and the sheriff’s dept are law enforcement organizations that work towards minimizing criminal activities.

Police Dept vs Sheriff’s Dept

The main difference between Police Dept and Sheriff’s Dept is the area of jurisdiction under which these two bodies work. The police dept functions in a city, municipality, town, or a village in a town. The sheriff’s dept on the other hand performs its functions in a county or subdivision of a state.

A police department is a law enforcement agency formed by the government to enforce law and order in a city or town. They are empowered by the state that the police force belongs to. The functions of a police dept include ensuring the safety and health of the citizens and maintaining civil order by preventing crimes.

The sheriff’s department is a law enforcement organization that is responsible for maintaining law and order in a county or an independent city. Historically sheriffs were elected by the citizens of the county, but now different states have different laws and qualifications for sheriff candidates. The sheriffs in most cases operate according to the constitution of the state.

Comparison Table Between Police Dept and Sheriff’s Dept

Parameters of ComparisonPolice DeptSheriff’s Dept
DefinitionIt is a law enforcement organization that works towards public safety and the prevention of crimeIt is a law enforcement organization that operates towards maintaining law and order under the constitution of the state
Jurisdiction areaThe police dept operates within a state, municipality, city, or town in a stateSheriff’s dept operates in a county of a state or a free city, which is a subdivision of a state
HierarchyPolice dept of a state has power over the sheriff’s deptSheriff’s dept does not have power over the state police dept
EmpowermentThe police dept is formed by the state governmentSheriff’s are usually elected, but different states have different laws for sheriff qualification
Additional dutiesThe police dept is mainly tasked with maintaining  civil orderThe responsibilities of the Sheriff’s dept vary with the county and in many cases, they are also tasked with limited law enforcement duties

What is Police Dept?

The police Dept is a law enforcement organization that is tasked with maintaining law and order in a state, municipality, city, or town. The organization is empowered by the state.

Thus a police dept operates according to the constitution of the state. In most cases, the organization is tasked with maintaining civil order by preventing crime.

Thus the police are bestowed lawfully to arrest anyone who is committing an act of criminal offense and they can also use legitimate force to do so. This is due to the monopoly on the violence of the state.

All the different activities that are a concern to the safety and health of the public are curbed by the police. Policing activities also include monitoring criminal or unlawful acts of conduct. Thus police patrols are designed to perform this act of monitoring.

In modern society, the police force has become necessary for the proper functioning of society. Police Dept act as the authoritarian body for maintaining law and order, and also to maintain the structural frame of the modern societal class.

Police also have hierarchical power over other law enforcement organizations like the county sheriff’s dept and other civil guard agencies that work to maintain law and order in local areas.

What is Sheriff’s Dept?

Sheriff’s Dept is a law enforcement organization that operates towards maintaining law and order in a county or other subdivision of a state.

Thus the Sheriff’s Dept is mainly concerned with the prevention of criminal offenses in a subdivision of a state. This could include a county, a free city, or a town that falls in a county.

Thus the laws for the operation of a sheriff’s dept also vary in terms of the county that they serve. Different counties have their local laws regarding different aspects of the law and order of the county. But ultimately the sheriff’s dept functions according to the state constitution.

This also applies to how the sheriff’s dept is formed. Unlike other law enforcement organizations, like the police, etc, the sheriff’s dept is not formed through the testing program.

Rather sheriffs are elected among the citizens of the county and each county has its particular laws for the qualifications of a sheriff. The elected sheriffs are directly responsible for the proper, lawful functioning of their county.

Along with policing activities in the county, the sheriffs are also given other duties, such as maintaining traffic control, providing security to government buildings, search and rescue operations, and so on.

 Main Differences Between Police Dept and Sheriff’s Dept

  1. Police Dept is law enforcement organization that works towards public safety and health order and operates towards prevention of crime. Sheriff’s Dept is a law enforcement organization that maintains law and order under the constitution of a state.
  2. Police dept operates within a state, municipality and city. Sheriff’s dept functions in a county or subdivision of a state or a free city.
  3.  Police dept has power over the Sheriff’s dept. Sheriff’s dept does not have power over the Police dept.
  4. Police Dept is formed by the state government. Sheriffs are usually elected among the citizens of a county.
  5. Police force is mainly tasked with law enforcement. Sheriff’s dept is tasked with many duties along with law enforcement depending on the county they serve.

Conclusion

Law enforcement has evolved over the years from the simple act of capturing criminals to maintaining the framework of modern society.

Thus law enforcement organizations perform duties that maintain the civil order of the region that they serve. Both Police Dept and Sheriff’s Dept are law enforcement organizations that work towards achieving this.

The police dept is formed by the government to maintain law and order in the regions of a state. This includes all the cities and towns of the state. The department is exclusively tasked with preventing criminal activities.

The sheriff’s dept on the other hand is a law enforcement organization of a county. These are the citizens of the county that are elected to maintain law and order in a county.

References

  1. https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/police-labor-movement-problems-and-perspectives
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=g-4YAAAAIAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=police+dept&ots=YpXb-zFmA6&sig=90VuqOGic6FsqblqLPKhZ79t9b8
  3. https://research.bond.edu.au/en/publications/duty-loads-carried-by-la-sheriffs-department-deputies
  4. https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=700152
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