England

Florida's Bradford County sheriff role 'best job in world'

  • 15 October 2012
  • From the section England
Media captionGordon Smith said being a sheriff was better than being the US president

"It's all about being a servant to the people. If you don't want to be that you don't run for office," says Gordon Smith, sheriff of Florida's Bradford County.

He has held the position for four years and is up for re-election in November, the same month people across England and Wales will elect police and crime commissioners to oversee their police forces.

Like American sheriffs, the commissioners will have ultimate responsibility for law enforcement, crime prevention and police budgets.

They will replace police authorities in 41 areas and will be paid a salary between £65,000 and £100,000.

'Dog chasing car'

Sheriff Smith told BBC Look North he believed the appointment of a single public official, rather than a committee, increases accountability.

He said he thought of the people in his community whenever making decisions.

"I am a public servant," he said. "A lot of people think they want [the role] until they get it.

"It's kind of like a dog chasing a car, what you going to do when you catch it?"

The sheriff is a familiar figure in the county, which has a population of about 28,000.

Meeting and greeting people in their force areas will be more difficult for police and crime commissioners, however, as they will be responsible for areas with populations running into millions.

But Sheriff Smith said getting out in the community he serves was key to re-election.

He said: "You know some people have this old philosophy, I'll kiss your [bottom] until I'm elected and once I'm elected you can kiss mine.

"But to stay elected and be able to stay the sheriff in any county or stay elected in anywhere you're at you have to be involved with the people."

Asked what he would say to the new commissioners in England and Wales, Sheriff Smith said: "It's better than being the president, it's better than being any other job in world.

"There's nothing better than being a sheriff and looking after your people."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites