What is a Sheriff?
The Office of Sheriff in Pennsylvania is a constitutional office. Each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties has a Sheriff. The term of each Sheriff is four years.
A Sheriff's duties cover a wide area of responsibilities. As an elected office holder, the Sheriff is in a unique position to meet the needs of his or her constituents. Some Sheriffs have road patrol and criminal investigations responsibilities. Others have special details such as drug or DUI enforcement, search and rescue, and mounted units.
The Office of the Sheriff was recognized in the earliest reports of English law and, throughout history, was recognized as the chief law enforcement officer in his shire or county. This status remains today, unless it has been changed by statutory law. The sheriff is also given authority to appoint deputies, a necessary function in order to properly transact the business of his or her office. The requirement for training of deputy sheriffs is specifically provided by stature, i.e.., the Deputy Sheriffs' Education and Training Act (1984 P.L. 3 No.2). However, based upon a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, a deputy sheriff needs training similar to police officer's to enable a deputy sheriff to enforce specific laws of Pennsylvania. A Pennsylvania sheriff retains all arrest powers and has the authority to enforce the criminal laws as well as the vehicle laws of Pennsylvania.
A Deputy Sheriff must complete 760 hours of training before he or she can graduate from the Pennsylvania Deputy Sheriffs' Academy. In addition, deputies must complete regular in-service training to maintain their certifications.
Pennsylvania Sheriffs are a professional law agency hard at work accomplishing our mission: To Protect and Serve.