In 1986, Sheriff John Duffy addressed the cadets in my San Diego Sheriff’s Patrol Academy. He explained how ancient the office of sheriff is and how it followed the colonists from England. He emphasized the traditions, duties and powers of the elected sheriff: the protector of the “shire” (county), the enforcer of court orders, the keeper of the jail, the peacekeeper.
Sheriff Duffy compared these historical roots of an elected sheriff to modern appointed chiefs of police and federal law enforcement. He described the relative autonomy of the office and the solemn duty to assist agencies throughout the county, to step into cities in times of crisis or dissolution.
I studied more about the office and ultimately left city policing to become a deputy sheriff, for less pay. Sheriff Duffy changed the course of my law enforcement career and it is with gratitude that I remember my earliest mentor. I believe the sacred trust and authority of the elected sheriff is one of service, duty and accountability to the citizens. This tradition and my oath of office have been the foundation of my decades of meaningful service as a peace officer.