What is a Deputy Sheriff?

A deputy sheriff performs normal law enforcement and crime prevention duties. This means that they enforce state laws, local ordinances and traffic regulations. They perform a variety of technical and administrative tasks to support their law enforcement and crime prevention responsibilities. Deputy sheriffs preserve public peace by detaining, interviewing and processing violators. They apprehend suspects, respond to assistance calls and may even care for inmates in detention centers.

Job Duties

Deputy sheriffs assist with the operation of law enforcement facilities. This may include jail supervision, court transportation, crime classification, inmate incarceration and prisoner release. They assist city, county and federal law enforcement and crime prevention personnel in accomplishing assigned tasks and fulfilling assigned projects. They must maintain the integrity, professionalism and positive values of sworn law enforcement professionals. Deputy sheriffs assure that all rules and regulations are followed by both their peers and members of the public. They often attend training, seminars and educational programs. Deputy sheriffs are often asked to present preventive education and information through community programs and school awareness projects.

Deputy sheriffs patrol in assigned areas and provide security for temporary assets. They are responsible for identifying and investigating illegal, hazardous and suspicious persons and activities. Deputy sheriffs provide scene security for public events, protect emergency personnel during crises and pursue and arrest law violators and criminals. Deputy sheriffs must operate department vehicles safely while maintaining them in effective operating order. They maintain traffic enforcement through traffic stops that may result in warnings, citations and investigations. Deputy sheriffs respond to emergency and non-emergency calls for service. They communicate with victims, suspects and witnesses of crimes. This means they must identify and collect evidence, complete detailed reports and respond to public inquires.

Job Requirements

Deputy sheriffs usually must be at least 21 years of age. Job applicants must successfully complete a psychological and physical exam as well as pass a drug screening and background investigation. Job applicants with felony convictions will most likely be rejected. Applicants must possess a valid driver’s license without any serious citations. Applicants who are veterans will be required to provide proof of their honorable discharge. Job applicants must pass a fitness test that challenges their strength, stamina and speed. For example, some law enforcement agencies follow military fitness tests that use timed push-ups, sit-ups and running events. Other agencies use miniature obstacle courses, which may include stair climbing, jumping over bars and dragging heavy dummies.

Deputy sheriffs must have enough physical strength to lift, carry, push and pull heavy objects. They must have adequate speed and explosive strength to subdue a fleeing suspect. Job candidates must have the stamina and strength to physically exert themselves over long periods of time without muscle fatigue or getting cardio winded. Job candidates must have the arm-hand steadiness and hand-finger dexterity to safely and accurately operate weapons. Deputy sheriffs are expected to be able to wear a bulletproof vest all day and drive long periods of time. Job candidates must pass a hearing test that proves they can determine the location of sounds and understand radio transmissions.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Secret Service Agent?

Deputy sheriffs are generally required to obtain their state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) certification. This professional certification program, which often comes in basic, intermediate, advanced and supervisory levels, is required for peace officers by most states. Becoming a deputy sheriff is an important criminal justice career.