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Sheriff vs. Police: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 10, 2024
Sheriffs are typically elected officials responsible for law enforcement in a county, while police are municipal officers tasked with enforcing city or town laws. Both maintain public safety, but their jurisdictions and roles differ.
Sheriff vs. Police

Key Differences

The Sheriff, traditionally an elected county official, has jurisdiction primarily in rural areas and unincorporated communities. Police, typically appointed officers, serve in specific cities or towns.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 10, 2024
Sheriffs often manage county jails and serve legal documents, while Police focus on urban law enforcement, including traffic control, crime investigation, and community policing.
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Jan 10, 2024
The Sheriff's authority can extend across the entire county, including cities with their own police force. In contrast, Police authority is generally limited to the boundaries of their city or town.
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Jan 10, 2024
Sheriffs may engage in broader roles such as court security and civil process service, while Police departments are more involved in local, day-to-day law enforcement and community relations.
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Jan 10, 2024
Sheriffs are usually accountable to the electorate, reflecting their political role, whereas Police chiefs are accountable to city officials or a municipal government.
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Jan 10, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Jurisdiction

County-wide, including rural areas
Specific cities or towns
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Selection

Elected by county voters
Appointed by city officials
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Primary Responsibilities

Jail management, legal document service
Crime prevention, community policing
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Operational Scope

Broad, including court duties
Focused on urban law enforcement
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Accountability

To the electorate (voters)
To city government or municipal officials
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Sheriff and Police Definitions

Sheriff

Legal Server
The Sheriff served the court summons personally.
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Dec 18, 2023

Police

Law Enforcement
The Police quickly responded to the emergency call.
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Dec 18, 2023

Sheriff

Law Enforcer
The Sheriff arrested the suspect after a long chase.
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Dec 18, 2023

Police

Crime Investigator
The Police are investigating the recent burglary.
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Dec 18, 2023

Sheriff

Jail Administrator
The Sheriff introduced new policies for the county jail.
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Dec 18, 2023
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Police

Traffic Controller
The Police directed traffic after the parade.
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Dec 18, 2023

Sheriff

County Official
The Sheriff gave a speech on rural crime prevention.
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Dec 18, 2023

Police

A body of government employees trained in methods of law enforcement and crime prevention and detection and authorized to maintain the peace, safety, and order of the community.
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Dec 13, 2023

Sheriff

Elected Position
She campaigned vigorously to become the next Sheriff.
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Dec 18, 2023

Police

A body of persons with a similar organization and function
Campus police. Also called police force.
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Dec 13, 2023

Sheriff

A public officer in the United States with responsibility for certain law enforcement and administrative legal duties, such as making arrests and serving processes, usually for a particular county.
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Dec 13, 2023

Police

(Archaic) Regulation and control of the affairs of a community, especially with respect to maintenance of order, law, health, morals, safety, and other matters affecting the public welfare.
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Dec 13, 2023

Sheriff

A public officer in various other countries performing certain law enforcement, judicial, or ceremonial functions.
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Police

(Informal) A group that admonishes, cautions, or reminds
Grammar police.
Fashion police.
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Sheriff

(High Sheriff) An official of a shire or county office, responsible for carrying out court orders, law enforcement and other duties.
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Police

The cleaning of a military base or other military area
Police of the barracks must be completed before inspection.
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Sheriff

(Scotland) A judge in the sheriff court, the court of a county or sheriffdom.
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Police

The soldiers assigned to a specified maintenance duty.
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Sheriff

(US) A government official, usually responsible for law enforcement in their county and for administration of the county jail, sometimes an officer of the court, usually elected.
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Police

To regulate, control, or keep in order with a law enforcement agency or other official group.
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Sheriff

To carry out the duties of a sheriff
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Police

To impose one's viewpoint or beliefs regarding, especially in an authoritarian way
Policing others' comments by implementing speech codes.
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Sheriff

The chief officer of a shire or county, to whom is intrusted the execution of the laws, the serving of judicial writs and processes, and the preservation of the peace.
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Police

To critique in a presumptuous or arrogant manner
Policed the grammar of everyone who commented on the blog post.
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Sheriff

The principal law-enforcement officer in a county
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Police

To make (a military area, for example) neat in appearance
Policed the barracks.
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Police

A public agency charged with enforcing laws and maintaining public order, usually being granted special privileges to do so, particularly
Call the police!
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Dec 13, 2023

Police

A department of local (usually municipal) government responsible for general law enforcement.
The Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction across most of Chicago but focuses on the unincorporated area and tasks like prisoner transport, leaving the rest to the Chicago Police Department.
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Dec 13, 2023

Police

(UK) A branch of the Home Office responsible for general law enforcement within a specific territory.
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Police

Any of the formally enacted law enforcement agencies at various levels of government.
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Police

The staff of such a department or agency, particularly its officers; an individual police officer.
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Police

People who try to enforce norms or standards as if granted authority similar to the police.
Who called the fashion police?
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Police

Cleanup of a military facility, as a formal duty.
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Police

Synonym of administration, the regulation of a community or society.
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Police

(obsolete) policy.
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Police

(obsolete) polity, civilization, a regulated community.
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Police

(transitive) To enforce the law and keep order among (a group).
Extra security was hired to police the crowd at the big game.
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Police

To clean up an area.
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Police

To enforce norms or standards upon.
To police a person's identity
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Dec 13, 2023

Police

A judicial and executive system, for the government of a city, town, or district, for the preservation of rights, order, cleanliness, health, etc., and for the enforcement of the laws and prevention of crime; the administration of the laws and regulations of a city, incorporated town, or borough.
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Dec 13, 2023

Police

That which concerns the order of the community; the internal regulation of a state.
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Dec 13, 2023

Police

The organized body of civil officers in a city, town, or district, whose particular duties are the preservation of good order, the prevention and detection of crime, and the enforcement of the laws.
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Dec 13, 2023

Police

Military police, the body of soldiers detailed to preserve civil order and attend to sanitary arrangements in a camp or garrison.
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Police

The cleaning of a camp or garrison, or the state a camp as to cleanliness.
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Police

To keep in order by police.
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Police

To make clean; as, to police a camp.
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Police

The force of policemen and officers;
The law came looking for him
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Police

Maintain the security of by carrying out a control
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Police

Urban Protector
City Police patrolled the downtown area nightly.
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Dec 18, 2023

Police

Public Safety Officer
The Police organized a community safety workshop.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

How do Police differ from Sheriffs?

Police are appointed and serve in specific cities, focusing on urban law enforcement.
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Jan 10, 2024

What is a Sheriff?

An elected official responsible for law enforcement in a county.
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Jan 10, 2024

Do Sheriffs manage jails?

Yes, they often oversee county jails.
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Jan 10, 2024

Do Sheriffs have a political role?

Yes, as they are elected officials.
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Jan 10, 2024

Who is accountable for a Police department's actions?

The Police chief, who answers to city officials.
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Jan 10, 2024

Can a Sheriff arrest someone in a city with its own Police?

Yes, Sheriffs have county-wide authority.
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Jan 10, 2024

Who appoints Police officers?

They are appointed by city officials or a municipal government.
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Jan 10, 2024

What roles do Police play in communities?

They engage in crime prevention, community policing, and public safety activities.
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Jan 10, 2024

Are Sheriffs involved in court proceedings?

Sheriffs may provide court security and serve legal documents.
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Jan 10, 2024

How do Police contribute to traffic management?

They control traffic and ensure road safety.
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Jan 10, 2024

Do Police officers have jurisdiction outside their city?

Generally, their authority is limited to their city boundaries.
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Jan 10, 2024

Are Police involved in community outreach?

Yes, many departments prioritize community relations.
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Jan 10, 2024

Can Sheriffs enforce laws in urban areas?

Yes, their authority covers the entire county.
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Jan 10, 2024

Is the Sheriff's role the same in every county?

It can vary depending on the county's laws.
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Jan 10, 2024

What training do Sheriffs receive?

They undergo law enforcement training similar to Police.
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Can a Sheriff be removed from office?

Yes, through electoral processes or other legal means.
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Jan 10, 2024

Do Sheriffs work alone or with a team?

They often lead a team of deputies.
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How do Police respond to emergencies?

They are trained for rapid and effective emergency response.
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Do Police handle rural law enforcement?

Typically, this is under the Sheriff's jurisdiction, but Police may operate in rural areas within city limits.
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Are Police equipped to handle major crimes?

Yes, they have specialized units for serious criminal investigations.
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Jan 10, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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