Sheriffs’ Offices Get Bigger; 78% of Officers Are White

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The number of employees in U.S. sheriffs’ offices grew 57 percent from 1993 to 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today. The nation’s 3,012 sheriffs’ offices employed 189,000 full-time sworn officers and 163,000 civilian workers as of three years ago. They usually don’t get as much attention as local police forces, but sheriffs account for about one-fifth of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and employ about one-third of the nation’s officers.

Besides handling a wide variety of criminal cases, elected sheriffs typically run local jails and provide court-related services. BJS said most of the sheriffs’ increase in growth resulted from a 138 percent rise over the two decades in the number of civilian employees. Sworn officer ranks increased by only 21 percent. Only 14 percent of the sworn officers were women in 2013. The racial and ethnic composition of sworn officer was whites, 78 percent; Hispanics, 11 percent, and blacks, 9 percent. Minority officers overall increased from 17 percent of sworn personnel in 1993 to 22 percent in 2013, due mostly to an increase in Hispanic officers.

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