The Constitution of the State of Georgia mandates that each county has a sheriff. The sheriff is a constitutional officer elected by the people of the county for a four-year term. State legislation designates the sheriff as the chief law enforcement officer in the county.
Sheriff’s Authority and Responsibilities
The sheriff is responsible for protecting life and property and for preservation of the public peace. This encompasses all functions associated with those endeavors including both civil and criminal matters. In DeKalb County, the sheriff functions as a law enforcement officer, an officer of the court, and as a detention officer. The sheriff executes these mandates with the support of a team of professionals that includes other sworn officers and civilian employees of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Headquarters and Jail.
Law Enforcement Officer
DeKalb County is home to both a sheriff’s office and a county government police department, as well as 10 municipal police departments. In DeKalb County, the county police department is the agency of first response and it handles all emergency 911 calls. However, the DeKalb County Sheriff retains the authority to intervene in any law enforcement effort within the county, including actions initiated by sheriff’s deputies who witness a violation of law or who act in the absence of a county or municipal police officer.
The sheriff is also responsible for the housing and execution of warrants for the arrest of suspected violators of criminal law. The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Unit is widely-known for its record of arresting 98 percent of murder suspects within 72 hours of warrant issuance.
Officer of the Court
The sheriff is responsible for providing physical security for DeKalb County courtrooms and buildings, as well as all judges, juries, employees and other persons who have business on the premises.
The sheriff is charged with: serving all court summons, including subpoenas and civil process papers; executing all court-ordered levies on property to satisfy judgments in court actions; transporting jail inmates to and from court; delivering convicted persons to prison after sentencing; and transporting mentally ill residents of the county to mental health emergency receiving facilities (with proper court authorization).
The sheriff operates the DeKalb County Jail. The adult pre-trial detention center houses persons above the age of 17 arrested by all DeKalb County law enforcement agencies or who are arrested in DeKalb County by federal or state agencies. As official county jailor, the sheriff is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of individuals in custody in accordance with court-established guidelines, and for preventing inmate escapes from custody.