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November 17, 2017
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JCSO Weekly Update - Sheriff Falls

The “Office of Sheriff"

People often ask me about the role of a sheriff and how it is different than the role of a police chief, for example.  While considering this question, I came across an explanation about the history of Oregon sheriffs.  It turns out, the office of Sheriff is a unique position with a rich background.  Here is an excerpt from the Oregon State Sheriff's Association article that I thought I would share:

“Clearly the office of Sheriff is not simply another department of county government.  County department heads are subordinate to a county administrator or manager because they are truly only a division of county government and they work for the manager or the board of commissioners.

The office of Sheriff is a constitutional office in 35 of the 50 states, having exclusive powers and authority.  These powers are not subject to the dictates of a county manager or the whims of the board of commissioners.  These powers have been exercised for over a millennium.  (Note: Oregon Revised Statute 206.010 provides this tradition.)

The sheriff is the “Chief Executive Officer” and "Conservator of the Peace” in the county.  In the execution of the office of Sheriff, there are many mandates and duties.  Overall in Oregon, there are 68 statutes with subsections which mandate by law what the duties of a sheriff are.

All Oregon cities lie within one or more counties.  The duty of the Sheriff as “Conservator of the Peace of the County” and to defend the county, therefore, extends into the territories of the city within the sheriff’s county.  Every city in Oregon has the power to provide general police protection.  However, the sheriff’s duty to provide law enforcement within the city limits is not relieved by the city’s providing its own law enforcement.

The kicker is this:  Beyond the sheriff’s discretion stands the discretion of the county governing body to appropriate funds to enable the sheriff to perform law enforcement duties.  Although the sheriff’s duties are mandated by state law, the decision over the amount of funding available for performance of these duties is left to the county’s governing body. 

Please take a moment to read the complete article.  It gives a good sense of the important, and varied, responsibilities of Oregon sheriffs.  

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your sheriff. 


Sheriff Corey Falls


Source:  History of the Office of Sheriff. (2015, February 2).  Oregon State Sheriff's Assoc., http://oregonsheriffs.org/sheriff-history/

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