Sheriff's Departments/Offices

Sheriff's Office

A Sheriff’s Office is a law enforcement agency responsible for maintaining law and order within a county’s jurisdiction. It is overseen by an elected official known as the Sheriff. The Sheriff is typically the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the county and is elected by the residents of the county through a democratic process, usually in a general election.

Here’s how a Sheriff’s Office is overseen and assigned within County government:

Differences: Sheriff's Office and Police Departments

Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments differ in several key aspects beyond their jurisdiction. Sheriff’s Offices typically have a broader range of responsibilities, including overseeing county jails, serving civil process documents, and providing court security. They are headed by an elected sheriff who serves as the chief law enforcement officer of the county. Police Departments focus primarily on law enforcement within their designated municipality, such as patrolling neighborhoods, responding to emergencies, and investigating crimes.

The Primary Roles in a Sheriff's Office

Featured Sheriff's Offices and Departments

Basic Requirements

There are several roles in a Sheriff’s Office, and each role may have a specific requirement that is outlined by the Peace Officer Standards & Training Council for each state.

Online Application and Initial Screening

The hiring process begins with candidates submitting an online application, which typically includes their personal information, education, and work experience. The agency will then go through an initial screening process to ensure that the applicants meet the minimum qualifications for the position, such as age, education, and citizenship status requirements.

Written Examination

Candidates who pass the initial screening will then be invited to take a written examination to assess various skills and aptitudes, such as critical thinking, decision-making, memory recall, and report writing. This will help ensure that the candidates have the foundational knowledge necessary for success in a law enforcement career.

Physical Fitness Test

To ensure that candidates have the requisite physical abilities to perform their duties, they will have to successfully complete a physical fitness test. This test may include events such as running, push-ups, sit-ups, and other exercises that assess stamina, strength, and agility.

Oral Board Interview

After successfully completing the previous steps, candidates will be invited for an oral interview with agency representatives. This is a critical opportunity for both the agency and the candidate to assess their compatibility and for the candidate to demonstrate their interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, and commitment to law enforcement. In many cases, if an applicant successfully passes the oral board, they may be issued a conditional offer at this stage.

Background Investigation

Law enforcement agencies conduct thorough background investigations on candidates to ensure that they possess the moral character and integrity needed for the job. The investigation may include interviews with family, friends, neighbors, employers, and others who can provide insight into the candidate's character. Additionally, candidates may be subjected to credit checks, driving record reviews, and criminal history checks.

Psychological Evaluation

To assess a candidate's emotional and mental stability, they may undergo a psychological evaluation. This process may include interviews with a Psychologist or Psychiatrist, as well as written tests that assess personality traits and mental stability. In most cases, the Psychologist or Psychiatrist will have access to the details of the background investigation.

Polygraph Examination

Many agencies require a polygraph examination to verify the truthfulness of the information provided by candidates during the application process. This step aims to detect any omission or falsification of information, which could disqualify an applicant from the law enforcement profession.

Medical Examination

Candidates must pass a comprehensive medical examination to ensure that they are in good health and physically capable of performing the demanding tasks associated with law enforcement work. The examination includes vision and hearing tests, as well as a thorough assessment of their overall medical condition.

Academy Training

Upon a final offer of employment, having successfully satisfied the requirements of the hiring process, successful candidates will attend an agency-sponsored training academy. Some agencies require their officers to participate in a field training program prior to the academy. Other agencies require the candidates complete the academy before starting their field training program. This structured program provides extensive academic, physical, and practical training on the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for a career in law enforcement.

Probationary Period & Field Training Program

After graduating from the academy, new officers will enter a probationary period, working under the supervision of experienced colleagues. This phase allows officers to practically apply their training on the job and provides the agency with an opportunity to evaluate their performance and readiness for independent duty. This timeframe can vary between 12 months all the way to 24 months.


Not all police departments will have specialized units, and the availability of these assignments may vary depending on the size, needs, and resources of the specific law enforcement agency. The steps in the hiring process vary and range from different agencies. For the most accurate information, please contact the agency directly and obtain the information from the agency regarding the exact steps in the hiring process.

Explore Opportunities in Law Enforcement

Sheriff's Office Opportunities

Sheriff's Offices have specialized units and capabilities available to them.
  • Patrol: Performing law enforcement duties in the community
  • Detention: Responsible for overseeing and managing individuals who are detained
  • Dispatch: Receiving and coordinating emergency calls, dispatching appropriate emergency services, and providing critical information to first responders.
  • Search & Rescue: Locating and rescuing individuals who are lost, injured, or in distress in remote or challenging environments