Sheriff has many responsibilities in leading law enforcement in county

Posted 28 August 2015 at 12:00 am


The voters in Orleans County are about to take a step toward selecting their next Sheriff during the Republican Party primary on Sept. 10. I thought I would take a moment to share some information with you and your readers about how important that decision really is.

The Office of the Sheriff is an historical one. The office dates to the middle ages in Great Britain, where the Sheriff was responsible for keeping the peace throughout a shire, or county, on behalf of the King.

The role of the Sheriff spread throughout areas influenced by the English, including the United States. In New York State, the Sheriff’s Offices in each county have been in existence since shortly after each county was formed, and in our case, that dates back to around 1824!

Fast forward to modern times in the United States. The Sheriff’s Office, and the duties and responsibilities of that office, vary widely from state to state and county to county. Those duties range from a limited set of responsibilities relating to warrants, civil process, and court security, to being full service law enforcement agencies for their respective counties.

In New York State counties outside New York City, the state constitution requires an elected Sheriff in each county. Further, the County Law of New York State delineates the duties of the Sheriff as “an officer of the court and conservator of the peace within the county”. This, along with the numerous other laws and regulations at the state and county level clearly establish the Sheriff as the head law enforcement officer in each county.

Modern sheriffs across the United States, with duties such as our Sheriff’s Office has, have become some of the premier law enforcement agencies in the country. They are, for all intents and purposes, police agencies with even more responsibilities and duties.

Most people don’t realize that beyond the typical police duties we see the Sheriff and the deputies undertake, the Sheriff is responsible for many more functions. Operating the County Jail in a safe and responsible manner; Providing public safety services such as the County 9-1-1 Center; Providing for the patrol of our waterways with a marine patrol; Providing security at court facilities and public events; And, as an officer of the court, managing civil process for judgments, claims, and other orders issued by our courts.

When we elect a Sheriff of our County, it is an experience unique to the Office of the Sheriff. In essence, all of the voters in a county get to do the equivalent of hiring their next Chief of Police. Imagine for a moment that you are a member of a village board or a city council member, and had the duty of hiring your next Chief Law Enforcement Officer.

You would carefully review the applicant’s resumes, qualifications, and references. You would dig into their experience, both as an officer and as a leader within the law enforcement field. You would want to ensure that the person you choose was the absolute best person for the job, based on all of this information.

The campaign portion of an election for the office of Sheriff is the time when the voters get to truly perform all of the tasks you would undertake if you were hiring someone for the job. So, check the candidate’ resumes. Look at their experience. Make sure they have the best qualifications.

I have done all of these things, and as a retired law enforcement officer with 25 years of experience, I can tell you there is only one real choice for the Sheriff of Orleans County. That choice is Tom Drennan.

Joseph Grube