Is there a difference between Sheriff and regular county level police officers in USA?
Wikipedia has this to say about Sheriffs (of United States, not Nottingham :)
In the United States of America, the scope of a sheriff varies across states and counties. The sheriff is always a county official, and serves as the arm of the county court. The sheriff always performs court duties such as administering the county jail, providing courtroom security and prisoner transport, serving warrants, and serving process. In urban areas a sheriff may be restricted to those duties. Many other sheriffs and their deputies may serve as the principal police force.
As such, is there any difference between a Sheriff and any other officer in charge of county police (the above quote seems to imply the reporting difference, e.g. one would report to the court and one to the county administration)?
Or is the difference merely in whether the post was called "Sheriff" historically in a given locale but with no functional distinction?
Are you asking what is the difference between the Sheriff (elected official, chief executive of county law enforcement) and a deputy (in charge of county law enforcement), or are you asking the difference between a Sheriff/deputy and a **city** police officer?
@user1873 - I think there are some counties (random example: Queens, NY) that don't contain sheriffs. I'm asking if there is something special about county-level police in those counties vs. the sheriffs, aside from the name.
The normal difference is that Sheriff is usually an elected position. As the highest law enforcement officer in the county, the Sheriff either has subordinates report to him (Deputy Sheriff) or is a higher authority than other law enforcement.
In the United States, a sheriff is generally, but not always, the highest law enforcement officer of a county. A sheriff is in most cases elected by the population of the county. The sheriff is always a county official and may serve as the arm of the county court (but these may be called marshals). The scope of a sheriff varies across states and counties.
Although, this varies from county to county.
Missouri has a county that eliminated the position of elected sheriff in 1955; the St. Louis County Police Department has an appointed police chief that performs the duties of the sheriff. Colorado has two counties that have appointed sheriffs rather than elected officials like the other 62 counties. Denver and Broomfield are city-and-county entities, which are required to have and/or perform a sheriff function. Denver's "sheriff" is the manager of safety, who is appointed by the mayor to oversee the fire, police and sheriff departments and is the ex officio sheriff.