The Mission of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is to serve, protect, and defend the community while preserving the rights and dignity of all.
Sheriffs stand tall in modern, progressive law enforcement, but their roots run deep into antiquity. The Bible describes, in the book of Daniel 3:2, that when Nebuchadnezzar, the king, was ready to dedicate a golden image in Babylon, he called together the high officials which included princes, governors, captains, judges, treasurers, counselors and Sheriffs. Sheriffs were mentioned numerous times in the Magna Carta, an ancient English "Bill of Rights", and they were present when it was signed. Apparently, the office of the Sheriff was transplanted to North America as early as 1634 when the first colonies were established. Thomas Jefferson called the office of Sheriff "the most important of all the executive offices of the county."
Like the division of government into counties, the position of Sheriff came indirectly to Florida from England, when Major General Andrew Jackson introduced the office as he took over the territory from Spain, around 1821. In 1845, the first legislature of Florida enacted a law stipulating that a Sheriff would be elected every two years within every county of the state, and in Hillsborough County, the 47 eligible voters elected John Parker, a former military captain in the Seminole Indian Wars, as their first Sheriff. In the ten years following that time, the Sheriff's Office functioned as a one-man operation. Then, as now, law enforcement was the Sheriff's business, but he was also required to clean the courthouse, plant trees, and conduct an annual census of school-age children.
In the 167 years since Sheriff Parker's tenure, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has evolved into a full-service law enforcement agency comprised of more than 4,000 law enforcement officers, detention deputies and civilians.
Sheriff's Office Documents and Information