History - A Brief OverviewThe history of the Office of the Sheriff is a chronicle of Western Civilization, a biography of democracy and a work-picture of man’s quest for equity and self-determination in matters pertaining to his government.
Whenever we scan the documents of British and American history, we find the Office of the Sheriff entrusted with the maintenance of law and order and the preservation of domestic tranquility. Some historians date the Office of the Sheriff to ancient Roman times. Others express the belief that the Office had its beginnings prior to the writing of the Magna Carta in 1215 in England. Of the 63 Articles in the Magna Carta, 27 Articles refer directly or indirectly to the Office of the Sheriff. Historians agree that the Office of the Sheriff is one of the most familiar and useful to be found in the history of English institutions. The functions and the powers of the Office have undergone changes, but for over seven centuries it has maintained a continuous existence and preserved features.
The Office of the Sheriff is the oldest law enforcement office known within the common law system. The Office of the Sheriff is the only elected law enforcement office in the country. Today, with some variations from state to state, the duties of the Office of the Sheriff have remained consistent.
The sale of property had been the responsibility of the Office of the Sheriff for over seven hundred years and this function is still performed to this day. The authority over bailiffs, constables, wardens and the jail are a continuing responsibility along with court safety and the service of warrants. Today’s Office of the Sheriff has not only continued the responsibilities of the past, but has expanded its duties to adapt to a modern world. These expanded duties include, for example, drug control, prisoner transportation, crime prevention, victim assistance, sexual abuse investigations, search and rescue, identification, community policing and communications.