Hi folks,
I need to pick your brains on sheriff departments. The story is set in upstate New York and the departments there handle more than just the courts and jails. They have CIDs, but I can't get a straight answer about whether they handle homicide investigations.

My guess is it depends on the county, which I'm making up btw-- I just want it to have some resemblance to the real thing-- and that the investigators aren't homicide inspectors, they just handle all investigations of a criminal nature which would include homicides.

I know that many small communities have deals/contracts with larger cities, and that the cities 'lease" their homicide detectives to these towns to solve murders. I fear though that the sheriff's department would have a limited role and that some other agency would be called in to handle the murder instead of them, which wouldn't work for the story at all.

Also while I thinking about it, the role of Sheriff, even undersheriff, and the various Majors in charge of the sheriff departments (CID, Jail, Patrol, etc) would have limited roles themselves in an investigation, and that for all practical purposes they're mostly administrative posts. If I want my MC to have a hands on role in the investigation, I think, I can only make him a Deputy Sheriff. Definitely not above the rank of Captain-- I'm guessing. Anyway, thoughts on this topic would also be welcomed.

Charles

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Charles;

That isn't necessarily the case here, in Washington State. If you contact me, I will put you in touch with the local Sheriff, who I know personally. I'm sure he'd be happy to clear things up for you. Check your messages.
Dunno if this will help you at all, but: until a few months ago, I lived in Columbia County, NY (2 hours north of NYC and 45 minutes south of Albany). A local friend of ours was attacked in her own home recently and it certainly went into the official records as assault, if not attempted murder, in the course of a robbery. The case was handled by detectives from the state police, who came and talked with us to learn a bit more about our friend. Our town cops or county sheriff's dept. didn't have anything to do with the investigation, as far as I know, after her initial 911 call. (The culprit was caught, BTW, and our friend is fine.)

Susanne
I think it depends on the size of the sheriff's office. The small ones here in Maine have CIDs but I believe homicides are the state police's domain. They would, however, have a county liaison detective who would do some of the legwork.
It has been a long time ago but I was married to an Undersheriff. He served as a detective and handled homicides that occurred in the county. There was also a Metro Squad established which included a member of the Sheriff's Dept., the local police, Sheirff and police department in the neighboring center and the Metro Squad was called in on big investigations.

HappyRuby
In Texas, Sheriff is a county-wide office. The county where I live has several sizeable cities each with their own police department, but much of the county is made up of smaller communities and unincorporated areas which the sheriff's department has jurisdiction over. Generally, the sheriff will cede jurisdiction over a murder if it happens in one of the cities with a police departement, but take jurisdiction if the murder occurs in other areas. The various law enforcement agencies will pool their resources where necessary. Our sheriff, for example, is one of the leading authorities on blood-spatter analysis, so he may enter a case that way. The sheriff's department has detectives like any other police department. It also participates in joint task forces (usually drugs) in which a deputy or detective is loaned to the jtf.
Sounds like Susanne has your best geographical update. In Wisconsin, we have county-wide sheriffs, city and metro police, village constables, and a state crime lab that handles all of the evidence (and is backed up so far they may qualify as immortals). Your state police could step in if there was reason to believe the local sheriff or police might be negatively influenced by the victim/criminal/politics/corruption, etc. It wouldn't be the sheriff themselves unless they were the only one who knew how, or who wanted to handle the case. Ususally sheriffs want somebody bewteen them and the caca to shield them at election time.
Thanks everyone!! Susanne I'm glad your friend is all right. ... I'm just going to have bite the bullet and call a sheriff in New York. My emails have been pretty much ignored. I'm pretty married to the setting in New York too, so I'll shake the tree and see what falls out there! Again, thanks for replying!

Charles

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