Get to Know Your Local Official: Sheriff
The sheriff is the primary law enforcement officer in the county. As the conservator of the peace, the sheriff strives to prevent crime and maintain the safety and order of the citizens in the region. Although the sheriff may enforce laws within the entire county, by professional courtesy, he/she does not do so within individual municipalities, villages, or towns which have their own respective law enforcement agency.
As an "arm" of the judiciary, the sheriff is responsible for the service of civil documents by order of the court such as subpoenas, summonses, and judgments just to name a few. The sheriff, in person or by representation of deputy, attends all courts in his/her county when in session.
The sheriff has the authority to appoint deputies who may perform any and all duties of the sheriff. In addition to regular deputies, the sheriff may appoint special deputies and auxiliary deputies. Special deputies perform specified duties such as serving a summons, while auxiliary deputies perform limited
duties, such as traffic control and emergency aid. In counties with less than 3 million inhabitants, the sheriff may also hire court security officers to provide for security of the courthouse. These officers have arrest power solely connected to their function in the courthouse and may carry weapons if appropriately trained, with the consent of the sheriff.
The sheriff's office strives to improve services to the community through innovative programs and additional services. Some of the more familiar programs include D.A.R.E. which provides education in schools to teach kids the dangers of drug abuse and how to prevent it; Crime Stoppers which provides an anonymous way to report crime and fugitives; K-9 Program which provides canine drug detection and tracking abilities for both law enforcement and search and rescue operations; and I Live Alone which provides home visits and crime prevention for the elderly.
Custodian of Courthouse and Jail
The custody and care of the courthouse and jail are under the jurisdiction of the sheriff. The sheriff is authorized to impose reasonable rules to control access to the county building(s) on holidays, weekends, and during hours when it is closed to the public. The sheriff, having custody and care of the courthouse, has the power to employ courthouse janitors and all other custodial personnel, and the county board has no authority to deprive the sheriff of such power by ordinance. While the sheriff exercises possession of the courthouse in a custodial capacity, the county board controls occupancy and judges assign courtrooms. The sheriff shall, in person or by deputy, county corrections officers, or court security officer, attend all courts in his/her county when in session.
The office of supervisor of safety is held by the sheriff. The supervisor of safety has the duty of enforcing all the laws of Illinois relating to the regulation of motor vehicle traffic and the promotion of safety on public highways. Foreclosures, property sales, and auctions are also the responsibility of the sheriff's office.
The Office of the Sheriff is open to lay persons. Sheriffs must obtain at least 20 hours of training each year approved by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board.
Sheriff is an elected office serving a four-year term. Under the Constitution, the Office of the Sheriff may not be eliminated.
(Source: Inside the Courthouse, Illinois Association of County Board Members)