New York Sheriff’s Departments
In the 57 counties outside of New York City in the state of New York, a sheriff is elected in each county to a three or four year term. The sheriff’s duties include serving court warrants, executing judgments, and enforcing court orders, as well as protecting life and property and providing security for the court. Although the sheriff has jurisdiction over the entire county, most sheriff’s departments tend to operate largely in the rural areas of a county, leaving law enforcement within city limits in the hands of the local police.
Each of the 57 county sheriff’s departments has a website where you may find contact information for the department. Most websites have a prisoner lookup tool or list of current inmates, along with a photo and other information such as arrest date, charges, and expected release date. The New York State Sheriffs’ Association maintains a directory of each sheriff, including contact information and a link to the website.
The sheriff’s department is also responsible for running the county jail(s) or detention facilities, unless those facilities are under other supervision. These facilities are generally used to house suspects awaiting trial and convicted criminals sentenced to less than one year. Each of the 57 counties with an elected sheriff has at least one jail. The smallest is the tiny 6-bed facility in Hamilton County. This county is the least populated in the state with just under 5,000 residents inhabiting its 1,808 square miles. The entire county is located within Adirondack Park. At the other extreme, Westchester County, just north of Manhattan, provides beds for 1,821 inmates in two facilities. The jails in Westchester County, however, are not the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office. Instead, the county has a Department of Corrections under the direction of a Commissioner. Two of the largest detention facilities run by a sheriff’s office in the state are in Erie County: the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, with a capacity of 638 inmates, and the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, which can house 884 prisoners.
In the five counties that comprise the City of New York, a single sheriff is appointed by the mayor. An undersheriff is appointed to each of the individual counties in the city. The sheriff automatically holds the position of deputy commissioner in the Department of Finance. Deputies in the Law Enforcement Bureau of the Sheriff’s Office are responsible for eviction, warrants, orders to commit, and seizure and sale of property according to court rulings. They also collect fines for the city. Personnel in the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Intelligence Unit investigate city tax crimes, real property deed fraud, synthetic drugs, and other offenses against the Department of Finance. All officers of the sheriff’s department have peace officer status both on- and off-duty.
The New York City Sheriff has no responsibilities for a jail. New York City’s jails are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Correction (DOC). The DOC manages 12 facilities, nine of which are located on Rikers Island. The Department also operates prison wards in two hospitals and court holding facilities in each borough of the city. The average daily inmate population is approximately 10,240 persons.