Sullivan County, NH Seal Sullivan County, New Hampshire, USA New Hampshire State Seal
  History - A Brief Overview

The office of the sheriff comes to America based on a model developed in England over one thousand years ago. In England groups of hundreds banned together and were known as "Shires", similar to a modern day County. Each separate group of a hundred, similar to a modern day town, were lead by a "Reeve" or chiefs. To distinguish the leader of a " Shire" ( county) from a leader of a mere hundred, (town), the more powerful official became known as a " Shire-Reeve".

The word : "Shire-Reeve" eventually became the modern English word SHERIFF. From the birth of the Shire-Reeve to the modern sheriff, the principle role of the office was to be the keeper of the chief of the county.

In the year 871, King Alfred the Great placed the responsibility of maintaining law and order in each county on the sheriff. Over the next few centuries the sheriff remained the leading law enforcement officer of the county. The appointment of the sheriff was an honor, however, it could prove to be costly. If the people of the county did not pay their taxes and fines in full, the sheriff was required to make up the difference. In addition the sheriff had to serve as host for visiting dignitaries, providing them with meals and entertainment at his own expense.

The first American counties were established in Virginia in 1634. Records indicate the first sheriff was elected in 1651. Currently there are 3066 sheriffs in the United States. The State of Texas has the largest number of sheriffs with 254.

In New Hampshire there are 10 counties each with an elected sheriff. The term of election varies from state to state, New Hampshire having the term of 2 years.

The modern day sheriff have not only continued the responsibilities of the past, but have expanded its duties to include:

  • Prisoner Transports
  • Crime Prevention
  • Education Initiatives
  • Violent crime Investigations
  • Search and Rescue Functions
  • Community Policing
  • Traffic Enforcement
  • Drug/Criminal Investigations
  • Civil Process

We hope that this has been informative for you and we are proud to perform the duties of a modern day sheriff for you.

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