What Utah state law says about the power sheriffs have

Monday , September 18, 2017 - 5:15 AM

MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner Staff

A separation-of-powers conflict is brewing between some Utah sheriffs and county governments. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, says commissions are meddling in sheriff’s operations and he wants to change state laws to strengthen sheriffs’ autonomy.

Here are existing key provisions of the Utah Code that specify powers and duties of elected county sheriffs, commissioners and auditors.


  • Preserve the peace

  • Make all lawful arrests

  • Provide court security and inmate transportation to and from court appearances

  • Take charge of and keep the county jail and the jail prisoners

  • Serve all process and notices as prescribed by law

  • Manage search and rescue services in his county

  • Provide law enforcement service as provided in any inter-local agreements


  • May generally direct and supervise all elected county officers and employees to ensure compliance with general county administrative ordinances, rules, or policies

  • May not direct or supervise other elected county officers or their sworn deputies with respect to the performance of the professional duties of the officers or deputies

  • May examine and audit the accounts of all county officers having the care, management, collection, or distribution of money belonging to the county, appropriated to the county, or otherwise available for the county's use and benefit

  • May investigate any matter pertaining to a county officer or to the county or its business or affairs, and may require the attendance of witnesses and take evidence in any such investigation.

  • Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit the county executive or county legislative body from initiating an action for removal or prosecution of an elected county officer as provided by statute.


A county auditor shall, under the direction and supervision of the county legislative body or county executive (commissioners) provide performance audit services for a county office, department, division, or other county entity.

A performance audit may include a review and audit of the following:

  • The honesty and integrity of financial and other affairs

  • The accuracy and reliability of financial and management reports

  • The adequacy of financial controls to safeguard public funds

  • Management and staff adherence to statute, ordinance, policies, and legislative intent

  • The economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of operational performance

  • The accomplishment of intended objectives

  • Whether management, financial, and information systems are adequate and effective

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