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The office of the Sheriff is one that dates back more than a thousand years. Originating in England, the word sheriff derives from the term shire reeve, which designated a royal official responsible for keeping the peace throughout a shire or county on behalf of the king. The office of the Sheriff has since been preserved in England, and has also been established in many other countries. In colonial Texas, the office of Sheriff evolved from that of the alguacil, its Spanish equivalent. The duties of the alguacil included patrol, arrest, custody and execution of executive and judicial writs. The alguacil also acted as executive officer of the courts, the equivalent of a modern bailiff, and executed the decisions of the alcalde, or local judge. The modern Sheriff first made its appearance in Texas around 1824, when the colony of San Felipe de Austin formed a set of community rules that included an appointed Sheriff to enforce regulations. In 1836, the constitution of the newly created Republic of Texas formally required the position of Sheriff, and the office has been provided for under every Texas constitution since. The constitution of 1876 stipulated that the Sheriff be elected biennially by qualified voters in each county, and that vacancies in the office were to be filled by the Commissioners Court until the next general election. The term of office was lengthened from two years to four years by a 1954 constitutional amendment. With minor exceptions to the term of office, the office of Sheriff continues in the State of Texas largely as it was in 1836. As the principal law enforcement officer in the county, the duties of the Sheriff include protecting citizens’ lives and property, keeping public order, enforcing traffic laws, preventing crime and breaches of the peace, and arresting offenders. The Sheriff also functions as executive officer for the District and County Courts in both civil and criminal matters by serving writs, subpoenas, and summonses, by executing processes and orders, and by seizing property after judgment. Finally, the Sheriff is charged with providing security for the courts, operation and management of the county jail, and taking charge of inmates. The Travis County Sheriff has law enforcement jurisdiction in the entire county, although the department does not normally exercise this authority within the city limits of Austin, which are served by the Austin Police Department. The 825 square miles outside the Austin city limits are patrolled by the Travis County Sheriff’s office, and officers answer calls ranging from traffic violations to homicides. The Sheriff’s office has many components, including the Criminal Investigations Unit, a full-time S.W.A.T. team, a livestock officer, traffic unit, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), school resource officers, and a community services section. The largest component, the Corrections Bureau, manages the security and maintenance of the correctional facilities and administers all inmate related programs and the countywide Mental Health Unit.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Sheriff Records

 Collection — Other all
Identifier: 01-CR65
Scope and Contents

Arrest and offense records, jail records, reords of writs and process, reports, publications, and National Night Out material from the Sheriff's Office.

Dates: 1841-2013, n.d.; Other: Date acquired: 2009-07-23