Procedures for reading reports from a county sheriff vary by jurisdiction and by whether the county has a sheriff's "department" or sheriff's "office," according to the National Sheriffs' Association. Sheriff's departments are branches of the government and are therefore under government control. Sheriff's office operations are under sole jurisdiction of the elected sheriff.
Many sheriff's offices, including the Volusia County sheriff's office in Florida, publish reports online. However, the Harris County, Texas, sheriff's department website states that those seeking a police record must request it by phone, fax or online. Some county governments also require that the sheriff's department release reports to local newspapers, as noted on sheriff's department website for Cobb County, Georgia. Newspapers then publish the reports and release them for public consumption.
The Farlex Free Dictionary defines the sheriff as an elected public official who is most often the chief peace officer of a county. Sheriffs' jurisdictions often overlap with local police departments, but consistent law enforcement in the entire county is ultimately the responsibility of the sheriff. State statutes and constitutions regulate and define the role and duties of sheriffs. Sheriffs are also subject to court orders, and the court may impose liability on a county sheriff for any misconduct or breach of duty. Limited immunity may protect sheriffs for acts performed in accordance with official duties.