In each of the 88 counties in Ohio, the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer. Primary duties include:

  • Providing Court Services
  • Operating the County Jail
  • Providing Police Services to unincorporated areas of the county

A less-known fact: Sheriffs maintain full jurisdiction in all cities, villages, and townships.

First to serve since 1788

Until Ohio achieved statehood in 1803, the position of sheriff was filled through appointment made by and at the pleasure of, the Colonial Governor. The first sheriff on record in Ohio was Colonel Ebenezer Sproat. At the time he was appointed in 1788, Colonel Sproat’s jurisdiction covered all of Washington County, an enormous amount of land covering all of Eastern Ohio from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

After statehood became a reality, only three public offices were filled through the electoral process. The position of sheriff was one of them. Through this system William Skinner became the first elected sheriff in the Buckeye State. Since the early 1800’s, Ohio sheriffs have been elected by the people they serve.

By virtue of this system, this office has become the oldest law enforcement position in the United States. It is also the only remaining law enforcement position in the United States filled through the election process. The term of office for Sheriffs in Ohio is four years.