From the Sheriff’s desk
One of the most frequently asked questions I get as sheriff is “why does Radford have a sheriff’s office and a police department?”
That is a great question that requires an answer that is specific to Radford City, since the answer may be different for each individual locality.
In June of 1971, the Code of Virginia was amended allowing Virginia cities and counties to appoint a local sheriff and dissolve the position that was known as city sergeant.
Radford City already had a functioning police department, so this decision meant Radford would now have both a city police department and a sheriff’s office. The primary functions of these two agencies are very different, although some of the duties overlap.
The primary difference between the two agencies is the duties that each performs on a daily basis. The Radford City Police Department (RPD) is the primary law enforcement agency in the city.
The RPD is responsible for patrolling the streets of Radford, arresting criminals, responding to emergency 911 calls, enforcing traffic laws to include investigating traffic accidents, investigating all crimes, serving criminal warrants, providing school resource officers and a wide variety of other related functions.
The police department also staffs and maintains the emergency communication facilities and the animal control facilities.
The Radford Sheriff’s Office has three primary functions. The first function is providing courtroom security for the three courts that are in session on a weekly basis – Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
The deputies are responsible for maintaining order in each courtroom; screening each person entering the courthouse for weapons and other prohibited items and protecting the judges, lawyers, clerks, witnesses and spectators while court is in session.
Our second primary function is the service of civil process papers. Civil process papers include subpoenas, notices, judicial orders, complaints, summonses and any other legal notice that may be issued for both civil and criminal cases. The sheriff’s office is also charged with the responsibility of executing evictions, levying property, seizing property and conducting public auctions to satisfy financial obligations.
Our third primary duty is to pick up inmates that are being housed in jails and prisons throughout the state, transport them to Radford to appear in court and then return them to the confinement facility.
Although it may appear that the police department and the sheriff’s office have very separate and distinct duties, the job of maintaining public safety often blurs the line between the duties we perform.
Fortunately, the working relationship between the Radford Police Department and the Radford Sheriff’s Office is tremendous and it is not unusual for either agency to call upon the other for assistance when the scope of the task or manpower issues call for a team effort.
So the next time you see a Radford sheriff’s deputy or a Radford police officer, you can rest assured they are fulfilling their duties and keeping your city safe and secure.
When someone asks you why Radford has a sheriff’s office and a police department, you will have an authoritative answer.