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What is a County Sheriff?

by Kristin Higgins - May 9, 2022

Updated Blog Post

Are you looking at your sample ballot for the Nov. 8 Arkansas election? There are a lot of jobs on the ballot that people might not know what they do.

Today we highlight the job of a county sheriff.

County Sheriff in Arkansas

Sheriffs across Arkansas are responsible for the care of more than 10,000 people a day in their combined county jails. Over the course of a year, 45,000 people cycle through these jails in Arkansas, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Public safety costs accounts for more than 1/3 of county budgets.

The county sheriff is one of nine elected executive positions in Arkansas. In some counties, the role is combined with county tax collector.

Term in Office: A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 changed the term of a county sheriff from two years to four years. The pay for the job varies depending on the population of the county, and is set by the Quorum Court using minimums and maximums in state law.

The Association of Arkansas Counties reported salaries ranging from $14,886 to $137,349 in their 2021 county government salary survey. Counties that reported a low salary were for part-time positions where the person is also paid for another role in county government.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • United States citizen
  • At least 18 years old
  • Registered to vote in their county
  • No fraud or felony convictions

Job Duties:

Over their four-year term, a county sheriff is responsible for:

  • Serving as county tax collector in counties where a separate position doesn't exist.
  • Executing court summons, enforcing judgments, orders, injunctions, garnishments, serving evictions, and making arrests on warrants issued by the courts.
  • Preserving the peace, preventing/detecting/investigating criminal activity, control of crowds at public events, control of traffic at accidents, protecting property during emergencies. 
  • Custody of the county jail and the people incarcerated within it. This includes providing food and health care to people in jail as they wait for bond or the outcome of their court case. (Note: not every county has a jail, but the sheriff's department still would be responsible for transporting people to the jail they use and to/from court).
  • Record keeping related to law enforcement and people in jail.

Look at Your November Ballot

Early voting starts Oct. 24 and Election Day is Nov. 8. Find out what is on your ballot at the Arkansas Secretary of State's VoterView website,

Use our 2022 Arkansas Ballot Issues Voter Guide to learn about the constitutional amendments on this year's ballot.

Additional Reading

Arkansas Sheriffs 2022 Procedures Manual - Association of Arkansas Counties