The sheriff in each of the 67 counties in Florida is charged with the following duties under state law: keep the peace; execute warrants, writs, and court and county commission orders; attend, in person or by deputy, all sessions of the circuit court, county court, and county commission; arrest criminals; and act as ex officio timber agent. Also by law, each sheriff was required to incorporate an antiprofiling policy into his or her department’s practices and procedures by 2002. Most of the sheriffs in Florida have the operation of a county jail in their list of duties as well. The state of Florida ranks fifth in the nation in number of sworn personnel, including sheriffs and deputies, per 100,000 residents, with 99 such officers. Three of the county sheriff’s departments rank in the top ten in the United States by number of sworn personnel: Broward County (7th), Palm Beach County (8th), and Orange County (10th). These rankings do not include Miami-Dade County, since its law enforcement is provided by a police department.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement provides training and certification of sheriffs, as well as deputies and corrections officers. Thirty-six of the county sheriff’s departments are accredited by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, indicating that they meet high standards of professional practices, including effective and efficient delivery of services, accountability, and reduced liability.
All county sheriffs are elected to four year terms, with one exception. Instead of an elected sheriff, Miami-Dade County has a chief law enforcement officer, appointed by the county government, whose title is Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department. Sheriffs in Florida have jurisdiction throughout their county, including incorporated as well as unincorporated areas. As in most states, however, the sheriff’s department tends to focus its operations on areas of the county not patrolled by a city police department. For contact information for a specific sheriff’s department, see the corresponding page on this website.