Sheriff vs Police: Decoding The Subtle Differences Between Sheriff And Police


Hello Everyone, In this blog, we will decode the prime Difference between sheriff and police while discussing their individual responsibilities and roles as law enforcers.

Sheriff Vs Police

The terms “Police” and “Sheriff” are so often exchanged and confused that we deem them one and the same. However, one might be surprised to learn that these two terms, although emerge from the law maker’s treasure chest, aren’t exactly interchangeable.

Difference Between Sheriff And Police

While both these officials are assigned to their position for law enforcement, the degree of power they hold can vary. If you are an avid entertainment chaser, you might have heard the word sheriff often used as opposed to police, but what exactly is the difference between police and sheriff?

What Is The Definition of Police?

Now, police departments are generally created or funded by the local municipality. However, it isn’t mandated by the law. If the need arises, the jurisdiction of the police department can only extend as far as the municipality serves.

Difference between police and sheriff

The head or the chief police aren’t someone who can be elected. Rather, they are hired by the city’s manager or by the governing board of the municipality. This is the body that determines the duration for which the officer shall be appointed and how many officials would be hired to work under the chief.

The police officers can or may enforce the state’s traffic and criminal laws along with local ordinances that are adopted within the municipality’s jurisdiction. The police officials serve the arrest warrants & function as bailiffs for the local municipal court.

Further, the police department might not be mandated to have a jail adjacent to their office. However, the can or may operate the municipal jail in order to house the misdemeanor violators. They are also allowed to withhold the detainees that await their upcoming transfer to the close-by county jail.

Police officials do not need to take charge of the responsibilities such as prisoner transportation, serving the civil processes, withholding estrays, or even conducting other duties that might be designated to the sheriffs.

What Is Definition of Sheriff?

On the other hand, a sheriff can be defined as an officer designated to maintain the peace and law in the area who is elected by voters in the county. He/she holds a public office and is elected every four years.

Difference between police and sheriff

As per the constitution laid out by the Texas state, there are a total of 254 counties in the state of Texas, and each needs to have a county sheriff. Now, each of these elected sheriffs holds a countywide jurisdiction but nothing beyond that.

Apart from this, the sheriff can appoint jailers as well as deputies in order to assist with the performance of multiple duties needed to maintain law in the area. Additionally, the sheriffs need to transport the prisoners from the U.S. to the local court for further hearing.

They can also transport the juvenile offenders, round up the strayed livestock, transport mentally challenged detainees, as well as perform other duties as and when required.

What is the difference between sheriff and Police?

Criteria Police Sheriff
Work Environment
  • Risk Scale: High
  • Work Hours: Approximate 40 Hours/Week (Overtime Expected)
  • WorkSpace: Field or Office
  • Risk Scale: High
  • Work Hours: Approximate 40 Hours/Week (Overtime Expected)
  • WorkSpace: Jail or Courthouse
Career Advancements
  • Deputy/Officer
  • Corporal
  • Sergeant
  • Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • Major
  • Colonel
  • Chief Deputy Sheriff
  • Sheriff
  • (Arranged in lowest to highest rank from top to bottom)
  • Detective/Investigator/SWAT Member
  • Police Sergeant
  • Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • Upper Manager (Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Assistant Chief, Commander)
  • Chief of the Department
  • (Arranged in lowest to highest rank from top to bottom)
  • Police officials are generally paid by their appointing body, which is the municipality
  • Sheriffs are paid by the local county at which they patrol and are employed at
Responsible For
  • City Limits Under Municipality
  • County Jails & Unincorporated City Areas
Position Type
  • Employed Law Enforcer
  • Political Law Enforcer
Laws Enforced
  • Traffic and Criminal Law
  • Traffic, Criminal, and Civil Law

Sheriff vs. Police: Work, Role, Power


Generally, the sheriff’s department tends to be a tad small as compared to the police forces employed by the municipal corporation. Generally, the sheriffs tend to patrol the county grounds & possess the power for apprehending the person that could be a possible threat to the order and peace in the county.

In certain cases, the department can also issue certain warrants for the suspected criminals as well as seize any illicit goods that are found during the process of arresting someone.

Additionally, the duty of a sheriff involves the enforcement of court orders, which include execution writs as well as a foreclosure. A sheriff can also enforce any arrest warrants that have been issued by the local county court.

Here are some other duties enacted by the sheriff:

  • Handles county finances
  • Traffic duties
  • Mandates court duties


On the other hand, a police officer is responsible for the protection of life & property via the corrective enforcement of local rules, laws, and regulations. The police also have to actively patrol the assigned areas. The official is also required to conduct follow-up traffic and criminal investigations.

Apart from this, a police officer also has to:

  • Testify in the court
  • Arrest & process the criminals
  • Self-initiate criminal or traffic investigations
  • Comprehend the emergency personnel covering the disasters or accidental emergencies
  • Adhere to emergency duties during adverse climatic conditions
  • Prepare field notes as well as written reports

Sheriff vs. Police: Educational Qualifications


The educational requirements to contest for the post of sheriff usually vary from one county to another. Given the fact that this post is an elected one, usually by the county public, there is normally no minimum degree requirement. However, in order to be able to attain an edge over the competitors for the post, the applicants should possess a minimum degree in the field of law enforcement, criminal justice, and so on. Apart from that, an added experience in the field can also be advantageous for the ones that plan on getting elected for the post.

An exception to this is Alaska that has no particular counties as well as Connecticut that houses no particular county governments.


The minimum educational requirement to become a police officer is to obtain a GED or diploma degree. Most law enforcement institutes might require the applicants to have an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or any post-secondary educational credits.


Now that you know the difference between a sheriff and police, we hope you would know the right way to approach for help when you see one. Although the two are responsible for law enforcement in the United States, as a citizen or county community member, it is our duty to help bring about peace and order at a personal and individual level.


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