The County Line: Cape Girardeau County sheriff's duties go beyond enforcing law

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan discusses a report Dec. 20 at the Cape Girardeau County Justice Center in Jackson. (Fred Lynch)

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan said his office has three primary roles: keeper of the peace, keeper of the courts and keeper of the jail.

Keeping the peace means his office provides general law enforcement services for out-county residents.

"We do patrolling, make arrests for DWI, serve warrants, whatever that might be," he said.

As the keeper of the courts Jordan's office essentially becomes a constitutional officer.

"You are guaranteeing constitutional rights and access to the courts," he said. "We serve civil and criminal process, serve papers for the courts, summon the jury, provide security for judges, lawyers while court is in session and we make sure the inmate arrives in court."

Keeping the jail involves caring for the inmate after the arrest is made. If someone is arrested in Cape Girardeau County on a state charge, it doesn't matter who the arresting agency is, the sheriff becomes responsible for booking, housing, caring for and transporting the inmate.

As the sheriff, Jordan said his specific responsibilities also include the administrative functions of the office -- scheduling, budgeting, overseeing policy and procedures and disciplinary matters.

"Those are the things that fall upon my shoulders more so than anything else," he said.

With almost 30 years in law enforcement and 16 as county sheriff, Jordan said he has seen departments change their crime-fighting techniques to keep pace with technology. He said waiting for fingerprint results used to take a long time, but now it is almost instantaneous through AFIS, the automated fingerprint database. Jordan remembers using pay phones to report from crime scenes, and now everyone has a cell phone or a satellite phone.

Technology may have helped departments, but it has also created a new genre of crime, as well. With the increase in identity theft and Internet scams, he said it is imperative his office keep pace with new ideas and technology.

Looking forward to 2011, Jordan said his department plans on upgrading its radio system and is looking to install computerized units in the patrol cars, allowing officers to spend more time on the beat. As far as technology has come, Jordan said it is still not a complete substitute to manpower.

The sheriff's department was created under Chapter 57 of Missouri State Statutes. The 2010 budget from county revenue was $2,864,792 for the sheriff's department and $854,532 for the jail. The sheriff's office also received $1,363,937 from Prop 1. Detailed county budget information is available at


Pertinent address:

216 N. Missouri St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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