Written by Jim Kaczmarek
Boise County Sheriff
As I look at getting out information to the citizens of Boise County, I thought that I would start with what the Office of Sheriff in Idaho is. I thought I would also provide where to find the definitions of common terms in Idaho Statute, and part of how the Office of Sheriff interacts with the other elected Offices in county government and county departments.
I think that first and foremost, one of most common misconceptions that I encounter is this idea of the “Sheriff’s Department”.
The best summation of the importance of the problem with calling an Idaho Sheriff’s Office a “Sheriff’s Department”, that I have found was in an article from the National Sheriff’s Association:
“Black’s Law Dictionary defines the terms as follows:
DEPARTMENT: “One of the major divisions of the executive branch of the government…generally, a branch or division of governmental administration.”
OFFICE: “A right, and correspondent duty, to exercise public trust as an office. A public charge of employment…the most frequent occasions to use the word arise with reference to a duty and power conferred on an individual by the government, and when this is the connection, public office is a usual and more discriminating expression… in the constitutional sense, the term implies an authority to exercise some portion of the sovereign power either in making, executing, or administering the laws.
The Office of Sheriff is not simply another “department” of county government. The internal operation of an Office of Sheriff is the sole responsibility of the elected Sheriff. County department heads are subordinate to a county governing body, because a “department” is truly only a division of county government. The Office of Sheriff is a statutory/constitutional office having exclusive powers and authority under state law and/or state constitution. These inherent powers are not subject to the dictates of a local county governing body. [Jim Kaczmarek: In Idaho, the exception to this is that annual budgetary authority for each office, including that of the Sheriff, is approved by the governing board of County Commissioners]
The Office of Sheriff has inherent common law powers and sovereignty granted under a state’s constitution and/or state law. It is different from a county department which derives its limited authority from whatever is delegated to it by statute or by state constitution.
The use of the term “Department” implies being a subordinate unit of government (i.e. subordinate to local government – “delegated” authority from county government to a Department, for example: Police Department, derived from the authority of the Office of Mayor, to enforce laws within a municipality). The use of the term “Office” implies inherent powers and independent sovereignty. “
Source: National Sheriff’s Association
It is also important to note that none of this means that the Office of Sheriff is more important than any other elected official. The rest of our elected officials, also established by Idaho statute and the Idaho Constitution, hold the Office of County Commissioner, Clerk, Assessor, Treasurer, and Coroner, with each of these Offices having their own inherent powers and independent sovereignty. (Just a point of fact, speaking of independent sovereignty as well as checks and balances within government, the county Coroner is the only person that can arrest the county Sheriff in Idaho ,IC 31-2220.) This highlights the need to elect county officials that are willing to work with others and maintain the necessary relationships to have a functioning county government.
In Idaho, the position of Sheriff is established by the Idaho Constitution in Article XVIII section 6 and Idaho Statute 31-2001(1). The qualifications to be Sheriff in Idaho are defined in Idaho State Code 34-618. The Duties of Sheriff are defined in Idaho Statute 31-2202.
The Constitution of the United States in Article 10 establishes the Office of Sheriff as chief law enforcement officer in the county.
To conclude this subject, I would state that knowing exactly what the Office of Sheriff (as well as the other elected offices in the county) is according to our Idaho State Constitution, and the United States Constitution as seen through the lens of the United States Supreme Court, is the starting point for understanding what duties and services the Office of Sheriff can provide, and sometimes more importantly, the why of what services can or cannot be rendered.
Some of the other duties that the Office of Sheriff in Idaho are required by law to preform (see ISC 31-2202 (10) above) include:
-Issuing Concealed Weapons Permits – IC 18-3302 (14)
-Issuing Driver’s Licenses – IC 32-2202(14)
-Maintaining a Sex Offender Registry – IC 18-8307
-Search and Rescue Operations – IC 31-2229
-Enforcement of Penal Laws – IC 31-2227
The next article will cover definitions of different laws in Idaho and how they relate to the Office and duties of Sheriff and the services that can, and cannot be provided to the citizens of Boise County.
Boise County Sheriff