The Office of Sheriff is not new. It is among the oldest and most respected of offices to be found in modern civilization. In fact, the Sheriff has been a part of our lives for more than a thousand years. They are easily traceable back to their roots in the Saxons of England in 992 A.D.
The name Sheriff actually derives from the old English title "Shire Reeve." The reeve was the "king's man" within a shire, a small community of about one hundred families. His duty was to maintain order while enforcing the king's will along with that of the court.
Sheriff's have been Office holders for over 1000 years and are one of the oldest known to British Common Law. In 1632, King Charles I, granted Maryland the power to appoint law enforcement officers.
The importance and authority of the Sheriff was firmly and permanently established upon the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 by the despotic King John. In England, the office was an appointed and often expensive one. Charged with collecting taxes and fines on the king's behalf, the Sheriff was held personally responsible to the crown for amounts which went unpaid. As a result, the position of Sheriff wasn't always the most sought after by qualified individuals.
The office of Sheriff crossed the ocean with the colonists upon the opening of the New World in the middle of the 17th century.
Their is some debate as to just when the first Sheriff in America took office. Some research tells us that the first Sheriff was elected in Virginia in 1651, but most accounts agree that Americas first Sheriff was Lord William Baldridge, appointed in 1634 here in Maryland as Sheriff of St. Mary's County.
By the time the colonies of the New World were united a century later, the Sheriff was no longer appointed. He was elected.
Throughout our country, Sheriffs perform a variety of duties in the service of the citizens of their respective counties. Whatever their duties might be, and regardless of their offices’ priorities, the County Sheriff is, above all, the Chief Constitutional Law Enforcement Officer in the county.
A legal dictionary defined the Sheriff as "…a creature of law created by the sovereign power in the state for public purpose connected with the execution of the law and the administration of justice, as the agent of the body politic, to give effect to its sovereign and carry into effect its will. His office is a mere civil institution, established for public political purposes, and may be regulated or changed by society."
The office of Sheriff remains an elected position in Maryland and elsewhere, and in virtually all jurisdictions, including some city jurisdictions, including Baltimore. The Sheriff is the only Law Enforcement Officer who is directly accountable to the public at large. Sheriff's are elected periodically throughout the United States, except in Alaska, Rhode Island and Hawaii.
A time honored Profession dedication to Protecting, Assisting and Serving Citizens.