Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

Categories: North America

Well-known to us from American films, sheriffs for some reason are perceived by many as domestic precinct officers, simply endowed with broader powers and better equipped. In fact, the analogy is not entirely appropriate, because the sheriff does not belong to the police at all and performs his own special functions. So who are they, American sheriffs?

Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

For us, the sheriff is the real embodiment of provincial America, with its prairies, canyons, dusty towns and brutal cowboys. But, oddly enough, the birthplace of sheriffs was not America, but medieval England. There was a position in the kingdom called "reeve". These were the managers appointed personally by the king to oversee the order in the counties — "shires".

In English folklore, the Sheriff of Nottingham is the main antagonist of Robin Hood

The full position was called "shire-reeve" and after the colonization of America, it was successfully adapted overseas. However, the duties of sheriffs became somewhat different and the more time passed, the less American sheriffs resembled their colleagues from the metropolis.

First of all, it should be said that there is no single police department in the United States. Each relatively large locality has its own police office. But this was not always the case-before there was no police in the country at all, and until the 19th century, sheriffs, who were chosen by local residents, kept order in cities and towns.

Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

These guys had quite broad powers to ensure the rule of law and the administration of justice. When the police appeared in the country, the sheriffs did not go anywhere, but only began to perform slightly different functions. In the United States, a sheriff is not a police officer, but an elected position for which a person is elected for a term of 2 to 6 years. The term of office of this official depends on the laws of each state.

To understand the difference between a policeman and a sheriff, you need to understand the rather complicated administrative structure of the United States. The highest level in the country is considered federal and only the FBI can monitor the order on it.

Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

Then there are the states, counties and cities. The police can be both county and city, but the sheriff represents only the county. The powers are distributed as follows: the FBI can work anywhere, the state police can only work in their own state, and the city police can only work in their own city. The powers of sheriffs are special, because the county is smaller than the state, but larger than the city, sometimes even significantly. Therefore, sheriffs are in this hierarchy between the city and state police.

As soon as the English colonization of North America began, sheriffs performed a minimal set of functions. Their main task was to collect taxes for the British Crown. After the American Revolution, the duties of these officials changed and became more diverse.

Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

Nowadays, sheriffs help the police to keep order where it is most difficult to do so — in small settlements where there are no police departments of their own. Of the 50 US states, the position of sheriff is present in 48 and in different states, the powers and duties may differ dramatically.

The following functions are common for sheriffs and their deputies in all states: monitoring traffic order, assisting the drug enforcement department, suppressing and investigating light and medium-serious offenses. Sometimes sheriffs even run small local prisons. Sheriffs make arrests and often perform the duties of a coroner.

Despite the fact that the work of the sheriff and his deputies is difficult and often dangerous, there are more than enough people who want to take up the guard of legality. This popularity is promoted by a very good sheriff's salary for the United States of 70-100 thousand dollars a year (5-7 million rubles). Assistants earn about half as much, but even this allows them to get into the middle class.

Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

The prestige of this solid position, sung in westerns and covered with legends, also plays a role. But becoming a sheriff is not easy at all. All residents of the district vote in the sheriff's election, and many serious requirements are imposed on the candidate. Some applicants for the position of sheriff have been working for the city or county police for years before submitting their candidacy. But service in the police and even legal education is an optional condition.

Who are American sheriffs and why do they not belong to the police

So the picture shown to us in American action movies does not quite correspond to reality. The sheriff is not only chases, arrests and fights, but also serious studies, exams, a lot of routine paperwork and a lot of responsibility to the voters.

Keywords: Elections | Laws | Colony | Kingdom | Police | Offense | Investigation | State

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