Law Enforcement

Sheriffs are the only locally elected constitutional law enforcement officers in Virginia, as provided in the Constitution of Virginia. Accordingly, the duties of the sheriff are not spelled out in any one document, law, or regulation.

Sheriffs are responsible for primary local law enforcement in all counties without a police force, but also have responsibility for law enforcement in all localities in which they serve. In 86 of Virginia counties, the sheriff is the primary local law enforcement agency, responding to all of the crime calls and calls for service from citizens.

The Virginia General Assembly has provided assistance to sheriffs in performing this function by providing one law enforcement deputy sheriff for each 1,500 population.

Jail Administration

The Code of Virginia provides that sheriffs are responsible for all locally operated jails. Sheriffs also sit on all regional jail board, and in some cases operate regional jails in Virginia. As such, sheriffs are responsible for transporting inmates to and from state institutions and maintaining security in local jails while transporting inmates to trials and other community services as required by local jail standards or court orders.

Today, local jails range in size in Virginia for a few dozen to over a thousand inmates and the operation thereof can be, and is, a very complex system of services to the jail community.

Learn more about the Prison Rape Elimination Act

Services to the Courts

Court services are the responsibilities of all Virginia's sheriffs. In each locality the sheriff is responsible for the security of the courthouse, the courtrooms, and the trails while they are underway. Sheriffs are responsible for the security and sequestering of the jurors and notification of jurors for court service. Additionally, sheriffs' offices are responsible for the service of hundreds of thousands of court papers per year, ranging from divorce proceedings and child custody cases to simple civil suits among citizens.

In addition to these services, sheriffs are called upon to promote Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) programs and services for victims and witnesses of crime, as well as participate in civil commitments to the citizens for their locality to protect the basic health and welfare of those citizens.


You can get your fingerprints taken on Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. There is a $5 fee, and you will need a picture identification that contains your signature and an expiration date (i.e. driver's license or passport). To get your fingerprints taken, go to: 

Moses Building
2nd Floor
21 N Main Street
Chatham, VA 24531