County Sheriff

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In California, a sheriff is an elected official and the chief law enforcement officer in any given county. The sheriff’s department of each county polices unincorporated areas (areas of the county that do not lie within the jurisdiction of a police department of an incorporated municipality).  As such, the sheriff and his or her deputies in rural areas and unincorporated municipalities are equivalent to police officers in the cities. The sheriff’s department may also provide policing services to incorporated cities by contract.

All Peace Officers in California are able to exercise their police powers anywhere in the state, on or off duty, regardless of county or municipal boundaries, thus California sheriffs and their deputies have full police powers in incorporated and unincorporated municipalities, outside their own counties, and on state freeways and interstates.