How to Become a Sheriff in Georgia?

The State of Georgia has 159 elected sheriffs, all working together under the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. The Association was created in 1954 and has since been involved in many activities that contribute towards the betterment of law enforcement in the state. It provides the following services:

  • “Annual training events for Georgia sheriffs and related personnel, and other valuable crime prevention programs.
  • Advocacy at the Georgia General Assembly for tough crime control measures and laws that promote professionalism and enhanced effectiveness of your Office of Sheriff.
  • Sponsor of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, which provides full-time residential care for the abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the state.”

In addition to the 159 elected sheriffs, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association is also supported by nearly 70,000 Honorary Members, who provide support to the Association in different ways. The GSA has been serving the citizens of Georgia since its formation and has managed to grow into one of the most successful associations of its sort across the country.
If you want to become a part of this Association, you will have to get elected as the sheriff in one of the many counties in the state. The following information is a general set of guidelines for aspiring sheriffs detailing the minimum requirements, steps to become a sheriff and salary information. Bear in mind that the exact requirements and process might vary from county to county, so you are advised to check the details with your local county before beginning the application process.

How to Become a Sheriff in Georgia
How to Become a Sheriff in Georgia

Minimum Requirements to Become a Sheriff in Georgia

Before you plan out your application process, you need to ensure that you meet a certain set of basic requirements. These include:

  • Candidate must be at least 18 years of age: This age limitation may change from county to county, for instance, some counties have a minimum age set at 21 years.
  • Candidates should be citizens of the US: If you are in the process of applying for citizenship, you need to wait till you get naturalized.
  • Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED: Most counties set this as a basic educational requirement for eligibility.
  • Candidates should have a residency status in the area where they want to become sheriff: This may not be a requirement in every county. Visit the website of your county’s sheriff’s office to get more details on the residency status.
  • Candidates need to be in good health: The job of a sheriff is a highly demanding one, both physically and mentally. Therefore, it is important for candidates to be in good physical and psychological health.

Steps to Become a Sheriff in Georgia

Once you have met all the basic requirements to become a sheriff in your local county, you will begin the actual process for application.

Step 1: Graduate from a police academy:

Some counties might offer their own training programs that allow you to skip the police academy. However, most counties would require that candidates complete a police training program to help them learn the essential skills that will be required on the job. Things you would learn here include the use of firearms, managing crime scenes, controlling crowds and questioning witnesses, among other things.

Step 2: Get some law enforcement experience:

To succeed as a sheriff, you will need to gain some experience working in the law enforcement sector. The duration of this experience would also be dependent on the county’s requirements – for instance, some might require just one year of experience, while others might need at least five years. Working as a judge may also qualify as work experience.

Step 3: Consider getting a degree in criminal justice:

Even though this is not a requirement in most states, having a degree in criminal justice or any law enforcement related field would help improve your prospects of getting elected. An education in a relevant field would make your voters feel more confident in your ability to perform as a sheriff.

Step 4: Clear the requirements to become a sheriff in your county:

These would typically include a written exam, a thorough background check, an interview and a physical fitness exam.

Step 5: File your official application with the county:

Your County would have a specified deadline to apply for the sheriff’s position. Make sure you complete your application package before that and submit your paperwork with the county courthouse, well in time.

Step 6: Plan and begin your campaign:

The first order of business would be to spread the word about your campaign. You will need to put together a team to help you spread your message across the county and highlight the reasons why everyone should vote for you. You will also need a proper plan for fundraising and managing finances for the campaign.

Step 7: Get elected and take oath:

If you are successful in the elections, you will be elected to the position of the sheriff in your county and will be required to take an oath of loyalty. You will sign a contract and begin your four-year term as sheriff.

How much does a sheriff make in Georgia?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Sheriffs Patrol Officers made a salary of $42,190 in the state of Georgia in 2017.