Who to Call When You Need Assistance? The Role of Police Versus the Sheriff’s Office

Did you know that Fairfax County actually has two different law enforcement agencies – the police department and the sheriff’s office? While each of these agencies provide services to the residents of Fairfax County, their roles are quite different.

When you dial 9-1-1 or the non-emergency number (703-691-2131), calltakers with the Department of Public Safety Communications answer your call. If you request law enforcement, the Fairfax County Police Department responds to your call for help. Patrol officers, assigned to one of our eight different district stations, are then dispatched to assist you. We respond to a variety of calls, from residential alarms, to crashes, burglaries, assaults and in-progress emergencies like robberies and homicides. Your police department has a variety of resources to assist our officers and our community with these criminal investigations.

When a police officer arrests an individual, the arrested is then transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center or the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center, depending on their age. Adults are processed and appear in front of a magistrate. If the magistrate does not release the arrested, they are then turned over to the custody of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office. Juveniles appear in front of an Intake Officer. If they are held, they are turned over to caretakers at the juvenile detention center.

The Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office has three core functions: managing the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, providing security in the courthouse and serving civil law process, which includes evictions. They also assist the public with the completion of all Class III Firearms applications. The sheriff and the sheriff’s deputies have civil and concurrent criminal jurisdiction in Fairfax County.

Overall, the police department assists the public in criminal matters and the sheriff’s office handles all civil matters. To learn more about each of these agencies, we encourage you to click the links below as well as follow on social media:

To learn more about the Fairfax County Police Department, click here.

To learn more about the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, click here.