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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75326 Find in a Library
Title: Sunbelt Sheriffs as Professional Law Enforcement Agents
Journal: Journal of Police Science and Administration  Volume:8  Issue:4  Dated:(December 1980)  Pages:450-454
Author(s): R Handberg; C M Unkovic
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: University of Central Florida
Orlando, FL 32816
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study surveys the characteristics and qualifications of sheriffs as law enforcement officials in 15 Sunbelt States.
Abstract: While police chiefs of middle-sized or larger communities usually are products of standardized career progression ladders, sheriffs are elected public officials and must seldom meet the often heavy formal requirements of professional police departments. Questionnaire responses from 643 sheriffs (a 47.7 percent return rate) indicated that most were middle-aged (average, 47 years old), white males. Nearly half were high school graduates, 19 percent had less education, 20 percent had some college, and 14 percent had college degrees. As professionals, the sheriffs averaged 8.8 years experience as police officers or deputies before their elections (range, 0 to 38 years); the no-prior-experience group constituted 21.7 percent of the respondents. Over 80 percent reported that they had received inservice police training at some point in their professional careers; 67.7 percent reported military training as an important component in their police training, while 49.9 percent claimed police academy or State trooper training. As sheriffs, they averaged 6.5 years experience in office, although 46.5 percent were in their first term. Jails or detention facilities were operated by 86.6 percent, although only 26 percent reported prior personal experience in corrections. Among those with such experience, an average of about 8 years exposure was recorded. Most respondents felt their departments were most effective in dealing with murder, assault, and various forms of theft. The crimes most difficult for them to handle were white-collar crime, drunkeness, prostitution, and juvenile offenses. Most sheriffs saw themselves as heading effective organizations. From this survey, the study offers the conjecture that the sheriffs would be responsive to reform efforts provided those reforms left the sheriff dearly in charge. Data tables and footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; Florida; Georgia (USA); Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi; New Mexico; North Carolina; Oklahoma; Police effectiveness; Police training; Sheriffs; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia
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