© Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office 2013
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office J. Harrell Reid, Sheriff
  HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF THE SHERIFF     The office of Sheriff is one of antiquity.  It is the oldest law enforcement   office known within the common-law system and it has always been accorded great   dignity and high trust.  For the most part, the office of Sheriff evolved of   necessity.  Were it not for laws which require enforcing, there would have been   no necessity for the Sheriff.  There would have been no need for the development   of police administration, criminology, criminalists, etc.  This is not the case,   however.  Man learned quite early that all is not orderly in the universe.  All   times and all places have generated those who covet the property of their   neighbors and who are willing to expropriate this property by any means.  As   such, man's quest for equity and order gave birth to the office of Sheriff, the   history of which begins in the Old Testament and Indeed, there is no honorable   law enforcement authority in Anglo-American law so ancient as that of the County   Sheriff.  And today, as in the past, the County Sheriff is the peace officer   entrusted with the maintenance of law and order and the preservation of domestic   tranquility.   Sheriffs have served and protected the English-speaking peoples for a thousand   years.  The office of Sheriff and the law enforcement, judicial and correctional   functions he performs are more than 1000 years old.  The office of Sheriff dates   back at least to the reign of Alfred the Great of England, and some scholars   even argue that the office of Sheriff was first created during the Roman   occupation of England.   Around 500 AD, Germanic tribes from Europe (called the Anglo-Saxons) began and   invasion of Celtic England which eventually led over the centuries to the   consolidation of Anglo-Saxon England as a unified kingdom under Alfred the Great   late in the 9th Century.  Alfred divided England into geographic units called   "shires," or countries.   In 1066, William the Conqueror defeated the Anglo-Saxon and instituted his own   Norman government in England.  Both under the Anglo Saxons and under the   Normans, the King of England appointed a representative called a "reeve" to act   on behalf of the king in each shire or county.  The "shire-reeve" or King's   representative in each county became the "Sheriff" as the English language   changed over the years.  The shire-reeve or Sheriff was the chief law   enforcement officer of each county  in the year 1000 AD.    Florida's first constitution, adopted in March 1845 when Florida joined the   Union, created the office of Sheriff as an elected official in each county.  The   concepts of "county" and "Sheriff" were essentially the same as they had been   during the previous 900 years of English legal history.  Because of the English   heritage of the American colonies, the new United States adopted the English law   and legal institutions as its own.   Florida's constitution has been revised several times through the years, but the   constitutional provisions establishing the office of the Sheriff remains the   same as it was in 1845, which, in turn, is strikingly similar to the functioning   of the office of Sheriff at the time of Alfred the Great and William the   Conqueror.  The major difference, of course, is that the Kings of England   appointed their Sheriffs.  From the earliest times in America, our Sheriffs have   been elected by the people to serve as the principal law enforcement officer of   each county.   Clearly , the Sheriff is the only viable officer remaining of the ancient   offices, and his contemporary responsibility as conservator of the peace has   been influenced greatly by modern society.  As the crossbow gave way to the   primitive flintlock which, in turn, gave way to the sixgun, etc., ad infinitum,   the Sheriff is not unaccustomed to change.  But now, perhaps more than ever   before in history, law enforcement is faced with complex, moving, rapid changes   in methodology, technology and social attitudes.  As Thomas Jefferson wrote in   his THE VALUE OF CONSTITUTIONS, "the office of Sheriff is the most important of   all the executive offices of the county."   After more than a millennium of   existence, the Sheriff continues to function as the great man in his county,   ready for whatever each new day may bring to challenge the domestic tranquility   of each county in America.  
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