What is the difference between a Sheriff and a Police Chief?
A Sheriff is generally (but not always) the highest, usually elected, law-enforcement officer of a county. Chiefs of Police usually are municipal employees who owe their allegiance to a city. Oftentimes, Chiefs are appointed by the Mayor of a city; or, they may be appointed by or subject to the confirmation of a Police Commission. Click here for more information.
However, there are no Sheriffs in Alaska (along with Hawaii and Conneticut,) so the next best info I could find is here:
Excerpt from “County Authority: A State by State Report” pg 16,17
A Publication of the Research Division of NACo’s County Services Department
Written by Matthew Sellers Research Intern
Under the Direction of Jacqueline Byers Director of Research and Outreach December 2010
Alaska’s boroughs are some of the biggest in the
nation, and derive their authority from the Alaskan
constitution and statutes. Alaska vests legislative
authority in a borough assembly, but places
executive authority in a “borough mayor,” who
must execute all legislative action. Many of Alaska’s
census boroughs are unincorporated, meaning they
have no functioning borough government. They are
considered one unorganized borough under Alaska
statute. The sheer size of many of Alaska’s boroughs
precludes the county government from offering
services to the entirety of the borough without
extreme cost to its residents, so Alaska’s counties
have limited authority to fulfill the traditional roles
of county governments. Instead, small incorporated
cities and service districts established by the
borough assembly do much of the service provision.
The Alaska State Constitution and Title 29 of the
Alaska Statutes delegates boroughs their authority.
The unorganized borough, though divided into
more boroughs for the purpose of the United States
Census Bureau, consists in the eyes of the Alaskan
legislature as one unincorporated political unit. The
Alaskan legislature may establish service districts
within the unorganized borough to provide schools,
utilities, land use regulations, and fire protection;
however, without a functioning county government,
only the legislature may take such a step in the large
unincorporated areas. The state also has platting
authority within the unorganized borough.
Alternative Forms of Government:
Any borough of the first class may adopt a home rule
charter to better govern its territory. The electors of
the county wishing to adopt home rule must elect a
charter commission to author a home rule charter
which explains the new governmental structure.
Following the charter drafting, a majority of the
proposed borough’s electors must affirm the charter
in an election. A charter borough may exercise
its powers to execute any function not denied
specifically by law. Additionally, the legislature may
extend home rule status to other boroughs as it sees
fit. Additionally, boroughs and the cities contained
within them may incorporate to form a unified
home rule government.
The unincorporated areas of Alaska in the
unorganized borough have the option to become
incorporated if the area is a first class borough,
meaning it has a large and stable enough population
to support a government, no geographic boundaries
will overly hinder service provision or representation
in the county government, and the area has
sufficient economic valuation to fund itself. The
borough must put forth a petition, provide public
notice of an election, and then hold said election
on whether or not to incorporate the borough. Any
service area the legislature had been operating may
be placed under the borough’s jurisdiction. New
boroughs receive grants from the state to ease the
transition into a new governmental structure.
This is only the beginning of the investigation, please comment to contribute.