To most people today, anyone in a uniform who carries a gun and wears a badge is a policeman. But there is a critical difference between POLICE and SHERIFFS and it is a distinction that is lost on most everyone these days.

To clarify, police are generally employees of a city government and patrol in their designated city. Police wear blue uniforms and are managed by a police chief who, in turn, answers to a city council. A Police Chief, like the one here in Phoenix for example, is appointed by the city council and can be removed by council members.

Sheriff’s deputies, conversely, provide patrol services to residents within the unincorporated areas of the county. Deputies wear brown and tan uniforms and, here in Maricopa County, are managed by an elected Sheriff. The Sheriff works with a Board of Supervisors, also elected officials, which allocates and then funds the annual budget to the Office of Sheriff.

Sheriffs are different in another important and distinct way. It falls to the Sheriff’s Office to run the county jails. Here in Maricopa County, there are five jails. Every police department inside Maricopa County uses the Sheriff’s jails to book and detain people they have arrested.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s detention officers, not deputies, manage these jails which, altogether, now comprise the third largest jail system in the United States.

The deputies of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are proud of their rich history and appreciate when they are correctly referred to as “Deputy”.