The Georgia Constitution mandates that each county has a sheriff, and legislation designates the sheriff as the chief law enforcement officer in the county. In most counties with a sheriff and a county police department, the sheriff voluntarily relinquishes the general law enforcement responsibilities to the county police department, although he cannot be forced to do so. The sheriff retains the authority to intervene in any law enforcement effort within the county when he felt compelled to do so. This includes actions initiated by deputies of this agency who have witnessed a violation of law or in the absence of a county police officer.
1. As a Law Enforcement Officer: The sheriff has the responsibility of protecting life and property and for preservation of the public peace. This includes all law enforcement functions associated with those endeavors.
2. As an Officer of the Court: In addition to providing physical security in the courtrooms and courthouse, the sheriff must serve as bailiff to the superior court or designate deputies to serve in that capacity. Bailiff duties include escorting juries to the courtroom, and if requested to do so, to their meals and hotel rooms. Bailiffs otherwise attend to the needs of the jury and guard them against outside influences. The sheriff is charged with serving all court summons, including subpoenas and civil process papers. In addition, the sheriff must execute all court-ordered levies on property to satisfy judgments- in court actions. The sheriff is also responsible for the transportation of mentally ill residents of his county to mental health emergency receiving facilities.
3. As a Detention Officer: The sheriff is the official jailer of the county and is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of all inmates. The courts have established strict guidelines that the sheriff must follow in providing these things to his inmates. The sheriff is also responsible for preventing the escape of inmates from the jail.