The charter statute explains the reasoning behind the creation of a separate regulatory authority for sheriffs. The sheriff and his or her employees occupy a unique place among law enforcement officers in North Carolina, since "the sheriff is the only officer of local government required by the Constitution.... The sheriff administers and executes criminal and civil justice and acts as the ex officio jailer.... The training and educational needs of such officers therefore require particularized and differential treatment from those of the criminal justice officers certified under Chapter 17C of the General Statutes." (' 17E-1)
General Statute 17E-4 sets out several primary duties and powers to the Sheriffs' Commission. The principle ones include:
- To establish minimum education and training standards for entry level employment as an officer, and to certify these persons as qualified.
- To establish minimum standards for the certification of training programs and to certify these programs.
- To establish minimum standards for instructors who participate in programs and to certify these instructors.
- To make evaluations to determine whether agencies are complying with the provisions of Chapter 17E.
- To adopt and amend by-laws for the internal management and control of the Commission.
- The Commission also has several advisory powers under 17E-4(b):
- To designate certain law enforcement positions as requiring specialized training, education, and experience and to certify these officers as such.
- To consult and cooperate with government agencies and educational institutions to develop training programs and courses of instruction.
- To conduct research and interpret data in order to improve the education and training of persons serving justice agencies in North Carolina.