Your local sheriffs department is a law enforcement agency similar to the police department, if your city has one. Many people are confused about the difference between police officers and sheriffs. The rules vary by state, but in general, the agencies are distinguished by their jurisdictions. Police officers are employees of the city in which they serve. As such, their jurisdiction is limited to the local area within a city or town. Sheriffs are not employees of a particular city, but of the county or the state itself. This means that they enforce the laws that apply to their county or state, not those of an individual city. In towns where there is no police department, the city may have the sheriffs department take the place of a police force. The head of the sheriffs department is elected by the general public whereas the police chief is appointed by the local police department or city mayor. Highway patrol officers are members of the sheriffs department, which means they are often required to enter into territory that is under police jurisdiction. Members of the sheriffs department also serve warrants, oversee jails, transport prisoners, conduct courtroom security, and assist other law enforcement agencies as needed.