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About the
Sheriff's Office

"There is one transcendant advantage belonging to the province of the State governments, which alone suffices to place the matter in a clear and satisfactory light,--I mean the ordinary administration of criminal and civil justice. This, of all others, is the most powerful, most universal, and most attractive source of popular obedience and attachment. It is that which, being the immediate and visible guardian of life and property, having its benefits and its terrors in constant activity before the public eye, regulating all those personal interests and familiar concerns to which the sensibility of individuals is more immediately awake, contributes, more than any other circumstance, to impressing upon the minds of the people, affection, esteem, and reverence towards the government. This great cement of society, which will diffuse itself almost wholly through the channels of the particular governments, independent of all other causes of influence, would insure them so decided an empire over their respective citizens as to render them at all times a complete counterpoise, and, not unfrequently, dangerous rivals to the power of the Union." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #17

Our role in democracy

The Office of the Sheriff is the first civilian law enforcement and civil defense organization in our western history. The Reeve of the Shire - or the Shire Reeve (this then became Sheriff) - was a leader chosen by the people of their town. He was responsible for "raising the hue and cry" and assembling the townsfolk when a criminal was on the loose. The term posse comitatus is the old British Common Law notion of the Sheriff raising a "posse" and deputizing people to act on his behalf. The Sheriff is foundational to our democratic republic, and is, perhaps, the essence of self-governance, for the mighty power of the State to regulate behavior is entrusted to the Sheriff, who is, and shall always remain, accountable to the people.

Alexander Hamilton recognized the awe-full power of the criminal justice system in the Federalist #17. He noted that it was foundational to a sense of patriotism, of peace and prosperity, and of social harmony. He also noted how, if misused, it could become a force against the Union. After all, if one State were to levy war against the other, the criminal justice system would be first used, as was customary at the time, to completely suspend civil liberties such as the right of habeus corpus, the protection against being thrown in jail and the key thrown away. The Founding Fathers knew all too well how the government could trample on the rights of individuals - this is why we have the Bill of Rights, after all - but also saw how it could uphold them as well.

One of my guiding philosophies when it comes to the administration of criminal justice is that we fairly and equitably enforce the laws, and that includes enforcing ourselves to ensure that we respect civil liberties as we police. We are as responsible to enforce the criminal laws as we are to enforce the laws that protect the individual. America is exceptional in this manner, although we sometimes fall short of our ideals. But, by electing the chief law enforcement officer of the county, the people maintain control over the administration of justice. What a powerful idea! We, the People, forming a more perfect union by holding our criminal justice system directly accountable. The very essence of American democracy plays out evenings in Town Justice Courts all over the County, where the elected law enforcement brings the accused before an elected justice, and is prosecuted by an elected DA. Your voice is critical to how we manage our own behavior as a society.

our Modern Role

     Under New York State law, “the sheriff shall perform the duties prescribed as an officer of the court and conservator of the peace within the county.” and “…shall serve all civil process…” This means that the two primary functions of the Sheriff are to house and produce before a judge those who have been accused and or convicted of a crime, and to ensure that legal paperwork is served. One of the things that sets Deputy Sheriffs apart from other police officers is our authority to serve legal orders. In most counties, the Sheriff provides law enforcement services. One way to think of the Sheriff is as a kind of marshal, who houses and transports prisoners, handles civil matters, and keeps the peace.

     In Dutchess County, most people know us as providers of police services. We have an active Road Patrol Division that responds to calls for service; conducts foot, bicycle, and motorized patrol, and investigates crimes. Additionally, our Detective Division handles investigations for major crimes, maintains the sex offender registry, and supervises special operations including the execution of search warrants. Even though the Sheriff has original jurisdiction over any offense that occurs within the county, we do not generally patrol the cities and towns of Poughkeepsie, and the City of Beacon, although we often partner with them. We help support all police agencies when they have a major case that taxes their resources.

     In addition to the typical police and patrol functions, we are the area’s premiere training agency. We not only conduct frequent police academies, but we invite all agencies to attend our professional development and specialty courses. We also have a number of specialty units including School Resource Officers; Marine Patrol; Motorcycle, Bicycle, and ATV Patrols; Emergency Services and Special Operations; Crash Investigation, and we offer programs for civilians such as our Citizen’s Police Academy, safe boating courses, and an Explorer Post. We are also the licensing agency for all pistol permits in Dutchess County.

Let’s Work Together

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