Covid-19 Information Portal
The basic political subdivision of the United States of America is the County, a format upon which all government is based. It is at the county level where crime can best be recognized and curtailed.
- The Office of the Sheriff was first recognized in 1772 and was adopted into the Constitution of the State of Tennessee in 1796.
- Under the Constitution and Statutes of Tennessee, the Sheriff is an elected official, and the primary conservator of the peace.
- The Sheriff is charged with more statutory duties and responsibilities than any other elected or appointed official in the state.
- The office of Sheriff is the only elected position that requires that a candidate be psychologically tested to determine fitness to serve in the office.
- The Sheriff is elected for a term of four years and may succeed himself. There are no term limits.
- The Sheriffs of Tennessee are equally responsible to the inhabitants within the incorporated cities of their respective county as they are to the inhabitants outside the city limits.
Duties of the Sheriff
- Suppress all affrays, riots, unlawful assemblies, insurrections and breaches of the peace.
- Detection of criminal activities, arrest of offenders, and investigation of all felonious activity within the county, including vice violations.
- Responsible for the free flow of vehicular traffic along all roads and the apprehension of all offenders.
- To arrest those known to have intention of breaching the peace, the execution of all criminal warrants and capiases issued.
- To attend all courts in the county when they are in session and obey the lawful orders of the court as well as providing security, custody and care of jurors.
- Responsible for the execution and return of all civil process and orders of the court according to law, the execution and return of all writs, delinquent taxes, and other processes legally issued, and to the levying of all executions which are delivered to his office.
- The Sheriff is the keeper of the county jail, required to take charge and custody of the prisoners therein and to receive those lawfully committed and keep them until they are discharged by law.
Additionally, the Sheriff is required to transport all insane persons coming into his charge to an appropriate institution, and if they have been charged with or committed some criminal act, take charge of them upon restoration of competence. Each of these agencies has its own realm within which it functions. Municipal police agencies operate primarily within the city boundaries, not serving civil process nor do they operate or maintain jails. The Highway Patrol, while performing a valuable function, operates primarily in the area of traffic enforcement exclusively.
The TBI on the other hand is an investigative body, but operates as an arm of the District Attorney General, and performs its duties at the direction of the District Attorney General except in certain specific criminal activity. The FBI and other federal agencies operate within the field of federal law alone. If there is no federal violation they do not intervene or assist. There are other facets of criminal justice which must be considered in light of the Sheriff's Office. Cities have municipal police agencies, the state provides the highway patrol, TBI, etc., and the federal government provides the FBI, ATF, DEA, along with others too numerous to mention. There is one factor common to all criminal violations throughout Tennessee whether they be local, state or federal crimes, they all happen in the county. The county must provide protection to its citizens from local, federal, and/or state crimes. County Officers are not limited to specific violations or certain areas within the county, the Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county and is responsible for it all. We in Tennessee recognize that all power is inherent in the people, all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness.