Abigail Greene


There are more than 3,000 sheriffs’ departments in the United States with varying authority based on the state and county in which they are located. Their authority may be as wide reaching as a “full-service countywide law enforcement agenc[y]” or may be as limited as having “no law enforcement jurisdiction in county areas served by local or municipal police departments.” Dissimilar to other law enforcement officials, who are hired after an interview and application process, most sheriffs gain their positions through partisan elections. Offices in forty-one states – more than 2,700 counties – conduct partisan elections for the sheriff position.

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