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Policing in the Political Arena, Essay Example

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The chief of police is an official who is appointed by an elected official, usually a Mayor; a Sheriff is an elected official, who runs for office as a political candidate. The primary duty of the sheriff is law enforcement. His authorities and duties are subordinated to other law enforcement officers under his command i.e. the deputies. The sheriff is autonomous and the only person who can arrest him is the county coroner. He exercises state wide authority for high crimes and a country wide authority over all crimes.

A chief of police can be a civilian administrator or a police officer.  His subordinates or police officers have authority only within their city and only when on duty.  Sheriffs’ deputies perform criminal law enforcement activities as well as discharge civil duties. On the other hand, police officers duties are restricted to criminal law enforcement within their town or municipality.

Politics are played out differently in a police department versus a sheriff’s office. A chief deputy helps the sheriff in overseeing the function of the deputy. If a sheriff wishes to retain his job through the next election, he must maintain political sway throughout his community (Lindorff, 1988).

To maintain his position, a police chief merely needs to sway his council to his side thus he is less politically savvy and tends to maintain a tighter reign on his department. Police officers are much involved in community policing and can easily rely on their partners for assistance. Sheriff Deputies are mostly unable to rely on their partners.

Reference

Lindorff, D., (1988).  “Could It Happen Here?” Mother Jones magazine, April 1988.

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