2018-02-13 / Police

THE Sheriff’s Desk ...

I am excited to deliver my first “From the Sheriff’s Desk” article since becoming your Delaware County Sheriff. I have been overwhelmed by the level of support for me and the Sheriff’s Office. When I took my oath on January 1, the ceremony was surreal in many ways. I am honored and humbled to serve you as your Sheriff and feel very blessed to have the privilege to represent the fine members of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

For my first article, I want to talk about the history of the Office of Sheriff and its role in our democracy. The Office of Sheriff is the oldest and most historic law enforcement agency in the history of the world. The Sheriff’s Office can be traced back over 1,000 years to early England. It was here under King Alfred the Great in the year 871 that you can find the early development of the Sheriff’s Office.

During the reign of Alfred the Great a new unit of government was created known as the “shire.” The shire was the forerunner of the modern day “county.” Each “shire” was led by a “reeve” (chief). It was the responsibility of the “shirereeve” to maintain law and order within his own “shire” (county). In those early days there were no police, no judges, no magistrates, etc. the “shire-reeve” (Sheriff) did everything. He had the power to arrest, raise armies, collect taxes, preside over courts, deal with traitors, and do everything on the King’s behalf.

In the battle of Hastings in 1066 the Saxon King Harold was defeated by the Normans. The Normans centralized power under the King and it was the Sheriff who became the enforcer of the law throughout the Kingdom. Even after the despotic King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta restoring basic rights and freedoms in England, the Office of Sheriff maintained its critical importance as keeper of the peace. It should be noted that the role of Sheriff is mentioned nine times in the Magna Carta.

As English settlers came to the New World the Office of Sheriff traveled with them. When the first colonies were established in Virginia in 1634, one of their first actions was to elect a Sheriff. Thomas Jefferson in his work called “The Value of the Constitutions” stated that “the Office of Sheriff is the most important of all executive offices in the county.” It was at this time the Office of Sheriff was the very first county office created in the United States.

During the 1700s and 1800s American Sheriffs were given a broad range of responsibilities by colonial and state legislatures. Among the duties included maintaining jails and workhouses. The enforcement of law, maintenance of the peace, and the handling of criminals throughout the judicial process were the responsibilities of the Sheriff. As westward expansion evolved it was the Sheriff who was needed to establish order in the lawless territories where the fastest gun often ruled. It was during this time that many categorized the Sheriffs into two categories: the quick, and the dead. The icons of western lore such as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp immortalized the Sheriff’s Office in history and legend.

Today there are over 3,000 counties in the United States. The Office of Sheriff remains as the only law enforcement officer in the land who is elected by the people and not appointed by a governmental body. For this special distinction, the Sheriff is often referred to as the “people’s lawman.” It is the Sheriff who answers directly to the people who elect him/her into office rather than the “government.” This distinction is just as important today as it was in 1634. This is a responsibility and an honor that I do not take lightly. I am proud to be your elected Sheriff and can assure you that I, and the members of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, will always strive to perform our duties with integrity and honor and always maintain our service to you as our #1 priority.

I wish you a happy and safe 2018. Never hesitate to call on me if you need assistance... I am always here for you!

Standing in Service,

Sheriff Craig S. DuMond

Delaware County

Sheriff’s Office

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