Many times people have asked me, “What is the difference between a detention officer and a deputy?” The simplest answer is a deputy has powers of arrest and a detention officer does not.  A deputy is a peace officer as defined by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and a detention officer is one who maintains the safety and security of the inmates in the county jail.

The state of Texas requires they both have a state issued license from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. To obtain their license they both must pass a background investigation, both must pass a physical exam, both must pass a psychological exam and both must pass a drug screen. The type of training each type receives is where a lot of the difference begins.

In today’s world a detention officer will probably have three to four weeks of formal training, plus on the job training with a training officer.  A deputy, who has powers of arrest and may use deadly force, will likely have 16 or more weeks of formal training plus 17 weeks of training with a field training officer. Each must pass a state administered exam at the end of their formal training to obtain their license. To maintain their license, each must pass the required continued education courses set out by the state.

Your sheriff’s office is a multifaceted organization that is responsible for a wide array of duties. I have shared information about the jail and dispatch. Now I want to give a brief outline of the different areas deputies are assigned.

The sheriff’s office, like a city police department, has a patrol division and a criminal investigation division. However, our sheriff’s office also has a civil section, transport section, warrant section, crime scene unit, court bailiffs, courthouse security, personnel/internal affairs section, communications, an estray unit, I.T. section, jail, an air wing, a reserve unit and the only dedicated full-time narcotics section in the county.

We have been fortunate over the past few years to be able to have major felony offenses reduced to new lows.  Some could say, “that is because patrol is catching crooks in the act,” or others may say, “it is because the investigators are catching the crooks sooner and minimizing the time they are on the streets committing crime.” The facts are all the sections provide some type of contribution in making our county a safer place to live.

Let me give you an example. Which part of your body would you be willing to say, “I don’t need this part, go ahead and cut it off?” Who of us thinks we have arms, legs, feet, etc., that we believe to be useless? I doubt any of us have that thought. The sheriff’s office is like the human body. Many parts make up the whole.  All are important and all parts perform a vital function. Take any one of them away and the whole part suffers.

In 1 Corinthians 12:26 we read, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (NIV)

We have one other vital part to our body against crime. It is YOU, the general public.  Your eyes, your ears and your support are vital in keeping Ellis County a safer place to live.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.