What is the difference between sheriff, police, justice of the peace and constable? Do we still have these positions? They all existed in Topeka in 1897. I have found them all in my research so far. So, I put this question to Doug Mauck, a retired deputy sheriff. Here is our conversation:
DM : The
Sheriff has responsibility for everything in the county, including the
towns and cities. The police have responsibility to enforce ordinances
governing their city. Small towns may elect a Justice of the Peace to
try offenders of city ordinances. The JP
need not be an attorney. Larger towns may establish city courts and
elect or appoint judges to preside over them. City police usually have
agreements for mutual aid, etc. with the County Sheriff.
Me: What about the constable? So,
the Justice of the Peace was sort of like a local district attorney is
now? They were elected--it appears annually at this time.
could be elected or appointed, depending on the city ordinance
establishing the office. They may or not be sworn in as special deputy
sheriffs. The JP served as a judge on violations of city ordinances
brought forth by the constable or city police. Cases ruled upon by the
JP could be appealed to the District Court.
The Justice of the Peace is a judge, so it's not a district attorney.
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