The office of county sheriff is established by the Indiana Constitution. The first sheriff of Marion County, Hervey Bates, was appointed by the state legislature when the county was established in 1821. The Marion County Sheriff is an elected official responsible for law enforcement throughout the county. The sheriff is elected to four-year terms by the voters of the entire county and cannot serve more than 8 years in a 12-year period.

The Marion County Jail, shown here ca. 1903, stood on the northwest corner of Alabama and Maryland streets. Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

The statutory duties of the sheriff are: to keep the peace; apprehend, arrest, and confine lawbreakers; maintain order in the courts; enforce county election laws; and supervise the county jail facilities and prisoners. In addition, the Sheriff is responsible for emergency communications (911), security for City/County Building and property, criminal warrants, tax collections, and sexual and violent offender registration and compliance. The sheriff may employ deputies and other staff to assist in fulfilling the several responsibilities of the office.

In 2007, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office lost two divisions, Road Patrol and Investigations, as part of a merger with the INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT (IMPD).

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is organized into divisions:

The Judicial Enforcement Division collects delinquent taxes, serves legal process papers as directed by the county courts, and serves legal process papers.

The Communications Division operates the largest public safety answering point (PSAP) dispatching law enforcement throughout the county. The Jail Division administers the Marion County Jail.

The Criminal Division is responsible for criminal investigations within the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the sexual offender registry, and criminal warrants. 

The Administration Division is responsible for training, HR, and finance functions. The Reserve Division is responsible for supplementing the Marion County Sheriff’s Office workforce with volunteer deputies.

Revised July 2021

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