If you think that the term sheriff originated in the American old west, think again. The office of the sheriff can be traced back to biblical times and the Book of Daniel in its account of Nebudchadnezzar and Babylon. Among English speaking peoples only office of King is older, the English sheriff's office can trace the roots of their office back over nine centuries. In the United States, the office of sheriff is a direct continuation of its English predecessor, with almost all of its powers and duties exactly the same as they were in England over nine centuries ago. It is a unique office of government in that: It is constitutionally mandated; It is an elected law enforcement office; It has duties in all three branches of law enforcement, those being Policing, Courts/Criminal Justice and Corrections/Jail. In Virginia there are Counties and Cities and each has a sheriff elected for a four year term as prescribed by the Virginia constitution, a sheriff is responsible not to city or county authorities of government, but only to the citizens of the city or county. This arrangement allows sheriff's to remain independent and free from the bureaucratic pressures that often afflict appointed officers. However, each locality is responsible for providing some funding to the sheriff so hat jails may be built and maintained, deputies hired and duties of the office carried out in a timely and efficient manner. So, the next time you see a sheriff in a western movie on TV, remember all those who came before. From Nebuchadnezzar until today, the office of the sheriff represents a long and shinning tradition that has almost no historical equal.
Some Historical Dates:
1738 - The Colonial Assembly created the office of Territorial Sheriff
1928 - Martinsville became a city of the first class.
1934 - Mr. Roy Adkins was elected Martinsville's first City Sheriff.
1945 - Mr. James L. Carter was elected Martinsville's second Sheriff.
1981 - Mr. Maynard H. Gilley was elected Martinsville's third Sheriff.
1993 - Mr. Steve M. Draper was elected Martinsville's fourth Sheriff.
1997- Mr. Steve Draper Re-elected for the Second time
2001 - Mr. Steve Draper Re-Elected Sheriff for the Third term
2005 - Mr. Steve Draper Re- Elected for the Forth Term