Deputy sheriffs perform a wide array of law enforcement functions including traffic enforcement, criminal investigations, courthouse security and detention facility management. In order to perform these duties at the level necessary to keep other law enforcement officers, prisoners and the public safe, extensive training is required.
Like most law enforcement officers within a state, deputy sheriffs are expected to complete a training program at the state law enforcement training academy. Although many sheriffs’ organizations around the country provide specialized training at their own facilities, most of these agencies rely upon the training programs at police academies to provide the foundation in law enforcement principles and practices necessary to preserve and protect public safety. These organizations will often provide additional training that is specific to their needs through the academy or through exclusive field training programs.
Deputy sheriffs serve a different role than many local police. They must often enforce laws in the less populated areas of the state, which requires enhanced judgment and self-reliance.
Detention Officer Training for Deputy Sheriffs
Most sheriffs’ offices are responsible for maintaining security at the courthouses and detention facilities within their county. In order to fulfill these specialized responsibilities, deputy sheriffs must receive additional instruction not usually provided to other local police officers. This instruction may be offered through additional courses at the police academy, through departmental seminars or classes, or on-the-job training.
Because detention officers must care for prisoners throughout their legal proceedings, these training programs are often quite demanding. These programs will re-emphasize defensive skills learned in basic training related to close combat, baton, and firearms. These courses will also provide new instruction in areas like:
- Cell extraction
- Riot control
- Cultural awareness
- First aid/CPR
- Prisoner transport procedures
Officers in a courtroom setting may receive training on the job from current or former security officials.
Law Enforcement Training for Deputy Sheriffs
The basic law enforcement training usually involves a challenging physical program as well as a demanding academic program. Deputy sheriffs are expected to be in the best possible physical condition so that they may excel in the performance of their duties. Training programs will emphasize physical fitness and may require recruits to engage in the following activities:
- Daily runs of several miles
- Core and upper body strength training
- Flexibility exercises
- Obstacle courses
- Firing exercises with both hands
In addition to building and maintaining outstanding physical fitness, recruits will be provided with unique training in skills that will better protect themselves and members of the public. These will include:
- Firearms: Recruits will gain proficiency in the use of sidearm as well as other common firearms. Recruits will be taught how to hold and fire these weapons and repeatedly drilled in their proper use until they possess accuracy sufficient to pass the final exam.
- Tasers and chemical sprays: While the use of firearms is rare among deputies, Tasers and chemical sprays are used often to subdue individuals who are combative or resistant to orders.
- Defensive driving: Motor vehicles are critical to most law enforcement duties because of their mobility and ability to shield officers from harm. Recruits are taught how to operate these powerful vehicles during a pursuit, in response to an emergency and under extreme conditions like snow, rain or heavy traffic.
- Self Defense: Deputies will obtain the ability to physically subdue another individual with bare hands or a collapsible baton. These skills are derived from combat styles utilized by the military.
In many jurisdictions, recruits are expected to pass a final physical test that will ensure recruits possess the skills and knowledge necessary to serve in the field.
Proper law enforcement begins with a comprehensive understanding of the law and police procedures. Deputy sheriffs will be instructed in many areas including
- Constitutional law
- Narcotics identification
- Patrol procedures
- Traffic enforcement
- Criminal justice system
- Domestic violence
- Arrest and control
- Media sensitivity
While most jurisdictions will employ a written exam to evaluate the knowledge of new recruits, some parts of the country will employ a video based exam, computerized scenarios or an oral interview. These exams often assess situational knowledge, problem solving and critical thinking. Upon completion of these programs, a certification is usually presented and many graduates can receive college credits.