(Roles & Responsibilities video below.)
County sheriffs can lay claim to a fact that is unique among county officials: The first known reference to their office came in the Bible, Daniel 3:3,2; which says...
"...Nebuchadnezzar, the King, sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the (golden) image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up..."
Counties brought order as homesteaders and settlers moved to Dakota Territory, county sheriffs provided urgently needed law enforcement. In 1889, the state constitution officially charged counties with the responsibility of preserving peace.
Today, the sheriff's office duties include making arrests, enforcing all state and local laws, maintaining jail facilities, transporting prisoners and mentally ill patients, serving legal papers, holding public sales of property under court orders and attending district court.
They have the authority to enforce laws in cities and towns as well as rural areas. In recent years, the decreasing tax base has led many small towns to contract with the counties for law enforcement service.
Sheriffs are elected every four years. Many of their responsibilities are regulated by the state and federal government. In spite of many changes over the years, the sheriff's primary role is still to preserve peace and order in the county.