Washington Sheriff Department

Find Washington sheriff offices, departments, headquarters, jails, and detention centers. Sheriffs provide information on records, arrests, inmates, warrants, and mugshots.


About Sheriff Departments

What is a Sheriff?

A Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer for a jurisdiction and the head of the Sheriff's Department. Sheriff's Departments are almost always county level agencies, though a few cities or consolidated city-counties have a Sheriff. Most Sheriffs are elected officials who usually serve four-year terms, and they are responsible for oversight of the other employees of the Sheriff's Department. The duties of a Sheriff and the Sheriff's Department vary from state to state and, in some cases, even within a state.

In some states, the County Sheriff's Department is a general-purpose law enforcement agency, similar to a Police Department. They may have the same powers and authority as a Police Department, with responsibility for patrolling any unincorporated areas of a county or areas not covered by a municipal Police force. In some cases, the Sheriff's Department may be the law enforcement agency for the entirety of a county, including incorporated cities.

Depending on the state and county, the Sheriff's Department may be responsible for a variety of functions related to law enforcement. Most manage the county jails, which entails taking custody of prisoners and holding them until they are discharged, as well as managing the operations of the jail and maintaining the facility. Sheriff's Departments may also transport inmates to other detention facilities and court.

Many Sheriff's Departments provide security services for courts and other public buildings. Sheriff's Departments ensure the safe passage of judges, conduct screening, and maintain courtroom safety.

In some counties, the Sheriff's Department may be responsible for serving and executing a range of legal processes issued by non-criminal courts. These include issuing summonses and subpoenas, court orders such as contempt of court, divorce papers, and evictions notices. In some cases, the Department may pursue and collect delinquent taxes.

There are typically no requirements for elected Sheriffs to have any specific legal or law enforcement experience or training, though most come from a law enforcement background. Deputies and other law enforcement officers in a Sheriff's Department go through the state's law enforcement training academy.