Seminole County Sheriff Office
About Seminole County Sheriff Office
More than 1200 years ago, the country we now call England was inhabited by small groups of Anglo Saxons who lived in rural communities. Each group of a hundred families elected its own chief.
The Anglo-Saxon word for chief was gerefa, which was later shortened to reeve. A new unit of government, the shire, was formed when groups of hundreds banded together. The shire was the forerunner of the modern county. Just as each hundred was led by a reeve (chief), each shire had a reeve as well. To distinguish the leader of a mere hundred, the more powerful official became known as a shirereeve. The word shire-reeve eventually became the modern English word Sheriff. The Sheriff, in early England, and metaphorically in present day America – is the keeper, or chief, of the county.
The Sheriff, under King Alfred the Great, who assumed the throne in the year 871, was responsible for maintaining law and order within his own county. However, it remained the duty of every citizen to assist the Sheriff in keeping the peace. If a criminal or escaped suspect was at large, it was the Sheriff’s responsibility to give the alarm the hue and cry, as it was called. Any member of the community who heard the hue and cry was then legally responsible for helping to bring the criminal to justice. This principle of direct citizen participation survives today in the procedure known as posse comitatus.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, American sheriffs were assigned a broad range of responsibilities by colonial and state legislatures. Some of their responsibilities, such as law enforcement and tax collection were carried over from the familiar rule of the English sheriff. Other responsibilities such as overseeing jails and workhouses were new. Clearly, the Sheriff is the only viable officer remaining of the ancient offices, and his contemporary responsibility as conservator of the peace has been influenced greatly by modern society.
Florida sheriffs have been constitutional officers since 1865. The term of Office of the Sheriff was two years until 1868, and since then has been four years. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office was established on April 25, 1913 when the area formally divided and separated from Orange County following a vote of the Florida Legislature. Since that time, the following Sheriffs have served Seminole County.