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donatos
12-13-2010, 08:34 AM
How many deputies would a sheriff likely have in a rural town of about 3-5000 people? Would they be paired like city cops? Does Sheriff zoom about with head deputy? Also, are there ranks to deputies?

I'm editing a small town novel right now, with sheriff and gang trying to kill the monster. But, ahem, I've lived in cities my whole life. Thanks in advance for any help.

Canotila
12-13-2010, 09:01 AM
Are you writing about somewhere in America?

Typically a sheriff and his deputies are assigned to a county, and don't have jurisdiction within city limits. If the town is small enough they don't have a police force at all, then the deputies would probably respond to calls within city limits.

donatos
12-13-2010, 09:19 AM
Thanks, think that's what's messing me up. I'm viewing this as city police and not as county law.

shadowwalker
12-13-2010, 09:43 AM
Yeah, our town (app 3600 pop) contracts with the county sheriff for coverage. We have 3-4 deputies who regularly patrol through town as part of their county patrol (ie, not exclusively covering us) and as many as necessary for any disturbances.

jeseymour
12-13-2010, 03:49 PM
Our small town in New England has a small police force, as did all the other small towns we've lived in. The state police would cover when the police are off duty. I've had calls ring through to the county sheriff's office on a weekend, but still had our own cops show up. In the really small town we lived in out in western Mass, there was a resident trooper, a state trooper who lived there and covered when the police force was off duty.

Collectonian
12-14-2010, 02:14 AM
Definitely depends on the town, so you could probably make it work the way you need to for your story. Calvert, a small town here in Texas, has a population of less than 1400, they had a police chief and two patrol officers until Friday when the entire force, including the Chief quit over pay issues (it is a very poor town and couldn't pay overtime) . So now the county sheriff and his deputies, along with the constable will be covering the town as best they can until the positions are filled with new staff.

YoursEvermore
12-14-2010, 03:35 AM
My town is about 4,000 people and we have 1 chief, 1 sgt, 2 full time officers and then 8 part time officers that fill in around the other peoples' schedules. There's usually 1-2 officers on at a time, depending on the day/shift - unless there's a big event, and then they can have the whole department there.

YAwriter72
12-14-2010, 03:43 AM
My small town (2500 people) on the coast of Maine relies on the county (Stationed about 20 minutes away in the "city") and more important, the State Troopers to patrol.

Kitti
12-14-2010, 06:56 AM
Don't know if this is helpful or not, but my county actually has both county sheriffs AND county police. There's eight district police stations scattered throughout the county, in the main populated areas (which we colloquially call "towns" but many haven't actually incorporated into townships and are technically just communities and tax districts).

Quoting from the county website:


When the police department was formed in 1940, it assumed patrol, investigative, crime fighting, and transportation safety responsibilities. Since then, the Sheriff's Office has provided three main areas of service to the community—managing the Adult Detention Center, providing security in the courthouses, and serving civil law process.

mtrenteseau
12-14-2010, 04:35 PM
The definitions of cities, towns, and townships varies greatly by state.

Here in Georgia, Union Point (2000 population 1,669) is a city. For many years it was illegal to establish a city with borders closer than three miles to any already incorporated city, but that's changed - the area in Fulton County north of Atlanta is now entirely incorporated into several cities.

In Pennsylvania, every part of a county not in a city is part of a township.

In Vermont, there are unincorporated villages that make up a town. County seats are called "shire towns."

Last time I checked, Union Point had eight police officers and three police cars - they bought a new one each year and retired the oldest.

donatos
12-15-2010, 06:13 AM
Definitely depends on the town, so you could probably make it work the way you need to for your story. Calvert, a small town here in Texas, has a population of less than 1400, they had a police chief and two patrol officers until Friday when the entire force, including the Chief quit over pay issues (it is a very poor town and couldn't pay overtime) . So now the county sheriff and his deputies, along with the constable will be covering the town as best they can until the positions are filled with new staff.

I think I read about that in the papers. I live in Texas too, my story takes place in West Texas. Do you know how big the force was? Also, in a small town like Calvert would it have had traditional police ranks, that is, Captain, Lieutenants, Detectives, etc.?

donatos
12-15-2010, 06:14 AM
My town is about 4,000 people and we have 1 chief, 1 sgt, 2 full time officers and then 8 part time officers that fill in around the other peoples' schedules. There's usually 1-2 officers on at a time, depending on the day/shift - unless there's a big event, and then they can have the whole department there.

Sweet, thanks for the info...This is roughly what I'm looking for.

Collectonian
12-15-2010, 11:17 AM
It was just the three officers, the chief and two patrol officers. The stories I've seen in the paper didn't mention if the patrol officers had ranks. As far as I could tell, they had no detectives or the like. They also have two county constables who work the area, but they aren't limited to just Calvert like their city forces :-)

If it helps, they have the job postings up to fill those positions. Here is the one for the police chief (http://tml.associationcareernetwork.com/JobSeeker/JobDetail.aspx?abbr=TML&jobid=a8cc5b5a-ca1a-46b0-b356-6fa4ef99e40c&stats=y) and for the two police officers (http://tml.associationcareernetwork.com/JobSeeker/JobDetail.aspx?abbr=TML&jobid=0201cc37-df9e-4688-8f6b-12ee92690c51&stats=y) :-)

Jamesaritchie
12-15-2010, 01:05 PM
Many towns too small to have a police force have town marshals. This is common all across the midwest.

But if you want to know what a given size town in a particular state has, one phone call can answer every question.

jallenecs
12-15-2010, 04:46 PM
Agree with Kitty. My town has a population of 1800, and its nearest in-the-county neighbor has a pop of about 18,000; "out in the county" (all areas that don't fall inside the boundaries of the two towns) has a population of 10,000. Inside the cities, the city police patrol. Outside the cities, the state police patrol.

the sheriff's office has four official deputies. they are considered officers of the court, and mostly handle warrants, courthouse security, and collecting property taxes. The jails are managed by the sheriff's office, but their employees are not considered deputies.

In practice, however, everybody kind of overlaps. Sometimes the sheriffs will issue tickets and arrest people, sometimes, the city police will carry warrants, the city cops will hand off a major crime to the state police, etc. Locally, at least, it depends on who has the resources to handle the situation.

It might serve you well to talk to a police officer in the setting of your story, and find out what the local practices are.

YoursEvermore
12-17-2010, 10:35 AM
Sweet, thanks for the info...This is roughly what I'm looking for.

Glad I could help! :)

Rabe
12-26-2010, 10:38 PM
Are you writing about somewhere in America?

Typically a sheriff and his deputies are assigned to a county, and don't have jurisdiction within city limits. If the town is small enough they don't have a police force at all, then the deputies would probably respond to calls within city limits.

Be careful with this because typically...not only DOES a county sheriff department have jurisdiction in the city (it's still in the county, right?) they have PRIMARY jurisdiction based on the structure of the state police force...wether it's centralized or not.

Even though some of my town's police officers would like for you to be right, it's not the case.

Rabe...

Stanmiller
12-27-2010, 12:53 AM
The Sheriff's department I'm familiar with covers a North Carolina county of 15,000 with seven patrol officers, three detectives, a chief deputy, and the sheriff himself. The only town in the county has a population of maybe 5,000 with it's own police department, which handles all calls inside the city limits. The county is one of the largest in the eastern US, but about 50 % of the county is inside Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which has it's own (federally sworn) law enforcement.
Stan

Cyberpunk cowgirl
12-27-2010, 02:12 AM
One thing to keep in mind - how many tourist do you have in your area?
My town has a population of 8000 - but it borders 2national parks. We have a healthy population of Summer People (the town triples during long weekends) and a steady stream of Christmas tourists. Also, we border a Reservation land
Therefore, we have three different police forces. The town force is about 12 members - the county has up to 30 (including water and mountain rescue forces). I'm not certain about the strength of the tribal police - but with tourist, your fictional small town might need ti boast a larger force and jurisdictional issues for an additional source of conflict.

cornetto
12-28-2010, 08:28 AM
My town has a population of about 800. The town has a single, full time Town Cop with a part time fill in guy and several paid volunteers for occasional work. The county has an elected sheriff and several full time and part time deputies. The Town Cop covers the area within the city limits, the sheriff's department covers the rest of the area and serves as back up for the town. Anything that requires investigation gets punted over to the state DCI (Department of Criminal Investigation). DCI agents are assigned to larger cities/towns and travel as needed. Any forensic work gets done by the state crime lab guys who may have to travel hundreds of miles to a crime scene. Larger cities have their own detectives and forensic people, but still use the state guys for the really serious stuff.

And then you have Indian Country...jurisdictional baklava.

Brandt
01-21-2011, 02:52 PM
How many deputies would a sheriff likely have in a rural town of about 3-5000 people? Would they be paired like city cops? Does Sheriff zoom about with head deputy? Also, are there ranks to deputies?


I grew up in a town of about 5000 in Texas. The sheriff is an elected county official and in my county he had 4 deputies. There was also a city police force with about 3 or 4 officers, including the cheif of police. County and city law enforcement work together when needed but they are seperate entities. The only rank I ever heard for a deputy was "Deputy Sheriff". Hope this helps.