The sheriff and deputies are the conservators of the peace in the county and may enforce the civil and criminal laws. They also serve legal process, take custody of the jail or workhouse and the prisoners, and may deputize any citizen of the county to assist in carrying out the duties of the office. The sheriff is elected to a four-year term and must have the following qualifications:
- Citizenship: United States citizen.
- Age: Twenty-five years of age prior to the qualifying date.
- Voter: A qualified voter of the county.
- Education: A high school graduate or equivalent.
- Criminal record: No convictions, guilty plea or nolo contendere to any felony charge or any violation of any federal or state laws or city ordinances relating to force, violence, theft, dishonesty, gambling, liquor or controlled substances, or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence so long as the violation involves an offense that consists of moral turpitude.
Be fingerprinted under the direction of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and have the TBI make a search of local, state and federal fingerprint files for any criminal record.
- Honorable discharge from the military: Not have been released from the armed forces of the United States with a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, or as a consequence of conviction at court martial for either state or federal offenses.
- Free of mental disorder: A certificate by a qualified professional in the psychiatric or psychological fields stating that the candidate is free of all apparent mental disorders as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, of the American Psychiatric Association, or its successor.
- Certification: Hold a current and valid peace officer certification as issued by the Tennessee POST commission within twelve months of qualification for the election of the sheriff, however this qualification is waived for first time elected sheriffs who must enroll in a recruit training program within six months after taking office and be POST certified in order to qualify for re-election.
- Non-legislator. Not a member of the General Assembly.