Step by Step Guide to Become a Sheriff in Michigan

There are 83 Sheriff’s Offices in the state of Michigan, all under the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. They are responsible for the policing needs of their respective counties and work towards providing better services to the citizens.

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The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association constantly works towards meeting these goals:

  • Augment the role of the Sheriff as the chief elected law enforcement official in the county
  • Administer training and education programs at various facilities to deal with the latest concerns and updates in law enforcement
  • Support and carry out law enforcement coverage of traffic rules
  • Help deter crime through prevention methods at all levels of administration
  • Provide assistance in concerns regarding correctional facilities
  • Maintain a leadership role and support the development and enhancement of the relevant law enforcement policies that serve the needs of Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Michigan

If you want to become a sheriff in Michigan, you will need to follow a series of steps. Keep in mind that these steps and requirements would vary from county to county and must be treated as a general set of guidelines. For detailed information, you will need to visit your county’s official website or their office.

How to Become a Sheriff in Michigan
How to Become a Sheriff in Michigan

Minimum Requirements to Become a Sheriff in Michigan

To become a sheriff in Michigan, the first thing you need to ensure is that you meet the minimum eligibility requirements:

  • All candidates must be citizens of the United States – if you are in the process of getting your citizenship, you will not be able to apply until you become a citizen
  • All candidates should be at least 18 years old – County requirements might be of a higher age cut-off, but generally, 18 is the minimum age for application
  • Residency requirements – This is not a requirement for all counties in Michigan, though a lot would require it. In some cases, if you have just moved to the county area, you might have to maintain residency for a year before becoming eligible to apply for Sheriff’s office
  • All candidates should have completed their high school diploma or GED
  • Candidates ought to be physically and mentally fit

Steps to Become a Sheriff in Michigan

Once you have ensured you meet all the basic qualification requirements, you need to begin the actual process of becoming a sheriff in Michigan.

Step 1: Attend a Police Academy

To begin your quest for becoming a sheriff in any Michigan county, you will first need to complete a police training academy. This academy will help you learn the essential skills needed to operate successfully as a county’s sheriff. You will gain knowledge about arrest processes, constitutional law and witness questioning, among other things.

Step 2: Gain some experience

Once you finish your police training academy, you will have to get some law enforcement experience. This could be one year of experience in some cases, or can even go up to five years on the duty – all dependant on the exact requirements of your county.

Step 3: Get a higher education degree

This step is not mandatory in most counties. However, getting a higher education degree can help you improve you performance as the sheriff. An associate or a bachelor’s degree in any law enforcement related major would likely improve your job prospects and will make voters feel more confident in your ability to serve as the leader of a county.

Step 4: Run for the office

To officially run for the position of sheriff in any county, you would have to go through a process. This would involve clearing a written exam and an interview, followed by passing an extensive background check and a physical fitness exam. After fulfilling these requirements, you will need to gather all your relevant paperwork, including your education and work experience details, and file them before the deadline. You can do this by visiting the county courthouse. Make sure all your documents are complete before you submit the application.

Step 5: Plan and begin your campaign

Now comes the difficult part. You will have to plan out an extensive election campaign that highlights your plus points and tells the voters why you are the best candidate for the job. It is advisable that you put together a campaign committee, to help you with the whole process, including the fundraising activities, media interviews, passing out fliers and generating interest in your campaign.

Step 6: Get elected and take oath

If you win, you will be asked to take an oath of loyalty and sign a complete employment contract outlining your obligations. You will be serving a term of four years, as per the rules of most Michigan counties.

How much does a sheriff make in Michigan?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the category of Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers in its list of occupations. This category made an annual mean income of $55,780 in Michigan, as of May 2017. O*NET OnLine shows a 7% job growth in this field. The number of people employed under this occupation was 18,470 in 2016, which is expected to grow to 19,690 in 2026. The job prospects for sheriffs in Michigan are looking bright in the upcoming years – so if you are planning to apply for this position, now would be a great time.

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