Office of the Sheriff
The Georgia Constitution mandates that each county has a sheriff, and legislation designates the sheriff as the chief law enforcement officer in the county. There is perhaps no public officer closer to the people, than the Sheriff of the County since he and his deputies, in their work, come in contact with the people throughout the county. They are symbols of law and protection and feared by wrongdoers.
The Peach County Sheriff's Office is a professional, full-service Law Enforcement agency led by Sheriff Terry Deese and dedicated to serving the needs of the residents of Peach County. A Peach County Deputy Sheriff since 1983, Deese was elected Sheriff in 2005 and has led the department with honor and dignity. He was named 2017 Georgia Sheriff of the Year in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Office of Sheriff, as well as his community and Georgia’s law enforcement family.
In Georgia, the Sheriff is the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the county. The office of the Sheriff in Georgia is considered to be both a constitutional and county office. The constitutionality of the office stems from the common law, from the constitutional provisions extended to certain offices in existence when the first Georgia constitution was ratified, and because the Sheriff is listed in the Georgia Constitution of 1983 as one of four independently elected county officers.
In the structure of county government, the office of Sheriff has the distinction of not being simply another department. Because the office of Sheriff is a constitutional one, its internal operations are the sole responsibility of the Sheriff, and the Sheriff is not subordinate to a county administrator or manager.
Today, Georgia sheriffs have years of law enforcement and educational experience. They are highly trained law enforcement officers with legally mandated responsibilities such as:
Law Enforcement: The sheriff has the responsibility of protecting life and property and for preservation of the public peace. This includes all law enforcement functions associated with those endeavors.
Court Duties: In addition to providing physical security in the courtrooms and courthouse, the sheriff must serve as bailiff to the superior court or designate deputies to serve in that capacity. Bailiff duties include escorting juries to the courtroom, and if requested to do so, to their meals and hotel rooms. Bailiffs otherwise attend to the needs of the jury and guard them against outside influences. The sheriff is charged with serving all court summons, including subpoenas and civil process papers. In addition, the sheriff must execute all court-ordered levies on property to satisfy judgments- in court actions. The sheriff is also responsible for the transportation of mentally ill residents of his county to mental health emergency receiving facilities.
Jail Administration: The sheriff is the official jailer of the county and is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of all inmates. The courts have established strict guidelines that the sheriff must follow in providing these things to his inmates. The sheriff is also responsible for preventing the escape of inmates from the jail.
The first known reference to the “sheriff” occurs in the Book of Daniel. The title began taking modern form in medieval England, where they helped maintain law and order.
On the American frontier, sheriffs helped safeguard peace in lawless territories. The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office is believed to be the oldest law enforcement agency in Georgia – established in 1732.