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What are the differences between an officer, a deputy, and a highway patrolman?

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  • What are the differences between an officer, a deputy, and a highway patrolman?

    • Serious replies only, please
    • All three are currently hiring in areas near me, and I just wanted to know what the overall differences and pros and cons are

  • #2
    It means different things in different jurisdictions. Here in Texas, "officer, deputy and highway patrolman" are all peace officers. A police officer basically works for cities/towns, but they also work for hospitals, school districts, etc. A deputy sheriff/deputy constable are county police officers who get their authority as being deputies of an elected official -sheriff/constable. A highway patrol officer are state police which normally start off in traffic enforcement. This is the most basic response.

    All have peace officer authority here in Texas, and they are only limited by their department in their scope.

    Here in Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety would be viewed as 'state police' even though there are others like game wardens and park police, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents, etc. They all enforce state law throughout the Great State of Texas. They make pretty good money and it is a plus or a negative that they post all over the state.

    A county officer like a deputy sheriff or deputy constable, here in Texas, range from very small departments to very large. Even though they have county-wide jurisdiction, they normally only enforce state laws in the unincorporated areas - leaving the cities and towns to their respective police or marshal deputies. They answer to the sheriff or constable who in turn answer to the people unlike an appointed city/town police chief. Many of these officers lose their jobs when a new sheriff or constable get elected. Also, there pay ranges in each jurisdiction.

    A police officer of a city or town enforces state and city ordnances. In a way, they are a company's(incorporated city/town) security guards which enforce the company's rules(city ordnances) but with the addition of state law authority. Their pay, just like county officers, range from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they have a little more job security.

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    • #3
      Basic difference is the category of the employing agency, i.e.: city, town, village, county, state agency. The authorities and scope of duties for each will generally be established by duly adopted laws, and these will vary from state to state, county to county, city to city, etc.

      A city may establish and maintain a police department, typically under the supervision or control of an appointed police chief or commissioner, with officers appointed to act in a subordinate capacity to the command officer(s). Salaries and benefits typically as provided by the employing city administration.

      A small town, village, etc, may have either a police department, a marshal, or constable(s). Duties and authorities may be as established by state laws or local ordinances. Salaries and benefits typically as provided by the employing municipality.

      A county typically has an elected sheriff with duties and authorities as defined under state laws. The elected sheriff may appoint deputies to serve under his supervision and control. Salaries and benefits typically as provided by the employing county. Note that some counties may also have a police department, with the sheriff's office limited generally to operating the jail facilities and administrative law functions (such as service of court orders, security of the courts, etc).

      State agencies may include a state police force, a state patrol agency, or specialized agencies (alcoholic beverage control, state lotteries, attorney generals' investigators, revenue enforcement agents, fish & game, and a myriad of others as established by state laws). Salaries and benefits typically as provided by the employing state.

      Then there are federal agencies spanning the myriad of alphabetic acronyms, each specifically charged with investigations or enforcement within a fairly narrow range of federal laws.

      Contrary to popular beliefs or TV/movie nonsense, there is very little commonality of duties, practically no transfer opportunities or procedures, and salary/benefit plans are all over the charts with no real comparisons. An officer/deputy/agent of one department may choose to leave that position to accept another position, but that usually involves walking away from most (or all) seniority, status, or benefit plans and starting over again at the bottom of the pile. Some exceptions to these general rules are agency heads (chiefs, commissioners, etc) and highly specialized investigators in certain fields, some of whom may be hired or retained for specific terms or purposes, or to "clean up a mess", "provide a new broom", or generally add to an agency's abilities to deal with difficult issues.

      Training and certification requirements range from non-existent to highly professional, with the only rule typically being no transfers or reciprocity between most jurisdictions or hiring authorities.

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      • #4
        Depends what state your are in.
        Now go home and get your shine box!

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        • #5
          a police officer, a deputy sheriff and a highway patrol cop walk into a bar. The cop orders a beer and a chaser, the deputy orders a shot of whiskey and the highway cop waits for them to drive away so he can grab them for DWI.

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          • #6
            Yep. That’ll do it.
            Now go home and get your shine box!

            Comment


            • #7
              In Ohio where I'm at "officers" serve villages, cities, townships, colleges and universities, hospitals, park districts. The townships and cities usually pay the best.

              The "deputies" serve the county where villages and unincorporated communities contract with the Sheriff for law enforcement service. Deputies who don't work the road but are peace officer certified work in the schools, civil division, detective division, administration. The sheriff is an elected official and is a politician with arrest powers. If he is unopposed at the end of a term come election time he can serve another 4 years. A newly elected sheriff can scrub out fiduciary positions from the previous administration (Chief Deputy, Captain, 911 Directior, etc.) that were appointed under his predecessor if he chooses and usually does. He can eliminate/add divisions and completely restructure the office to his liking. More political at the SO as the sheriff answers to the voters and collaborates with other elected county officials.

              State Troopers in ohio are your "highway patrolmen". They're state level law enforcement and primarily focus on traffic violations, handling crashes and have authority to enforce laws on state property. They have state wide jurisdiction to enforce laws but you will primarily see them on interstates and state routes stopping cars and working crashes. They're assigned to "posts" which include an entire county or two. Troopers are all trained the same way and are required to attend a 6 month live in academy in Columbus upon hire. No getting around that.

              Again this is Ohio.

              Comment


              • just joe
                just joe commented
                Editing a comment
                Villages can also have marshals and deputy marshals, and townships can have constables.

            • #8
              All of the above comments are correct.

              A major difference also is that deputies are afforded NO civil service protection. They are hired and fired at the total discretion of the sheriff.

              One day you’re hired as a deputy, the next day you’re the promoted to asst sheriff / undersheriff, the next day you’re fired,....oh well.

              Seriously, the biggest difference is that the sheriff answers to No One, but the Voters.

              Comment


              • WoodCo.Explorer
                WoodCo.Explorer commented
                Editing a comment
                Yup ohio is like that. Lots of head scratching promotions, hush hush terminations/retirements and back door hires. It's crazy.

              • Saluki89
                Saluki89 commented
                Editing a comment
                Outdated and archaic system that needs to be replaced. Politics and policing need to be separated.

            • #9
              Originally posted by NolaT View Post
              All of the above comments are correct.

              A major difference also is that deputies are afforded NO civil service protection. They are hired and fired at the total discretion of the sheriff.

              One day you’re hired as a deputy, the next day you’re the promoted to asst sheriff / undersheriff, the next day you’re fired,....oh well.

              Seriously, the biggest difference is that the sheriff answers to No One, but the Voters.
              Actually, other than relatively large municipal departments and state agencies, civil service protections are infrequent at best. Here in Colorado the law is plain, all employment is at the will and pleasure of the employer, so unless one is employed by an agency operating under some version of civil service rules there are no set standards for hiring, disciplinary action, or termination. About the only legal protection is unemployment compensation, which may not be granted in the event of termination "for cause" (i.e.: fired for violating terms and conditions of employment, failing to perform an assigned task, no-call-no-show, etc).

              State laws vary considerably on matters of employer-employee relationships. "Civil service" is a term that varies widely from state to state, agency to agency, etc; there is no single standard or even a general guideline.

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by NolaT View Post
                All of the above comments are correct.

                A major difference also is that deputies are afforded NO civil service protection. They are hired and fired at the total discretion of the sheriff.

                One day you’re hired as a deputy, the next day you’re the promoted to asst sheriff / undersheriff, the next day you’re fired,....oh well.

                Seriously, the biggest difference is that the sheriff answers to No One, but the Voters.
                In Iowa deputy sheriffs are Civil Service...................

                MOST LEO's are protected by unions (including most of the Sherif's Offices.) .
                Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                Comment


                • #11
                  As others have said it varies widely between states and jurisdictions... but USUALLY a “deputy” works for an elected official (sheriff/ constable).
                  "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                  "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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