The sheriff's office is in a non-competitive environment, with each county having its own sheriff's office to serve the needs of that county. It is a largely political institution at the top; most sheriffs are elected (though not all of them, as it depends on the rules of the county), with a team of deputy employees underneath the sheriff. There is no competition with a sheriff's office, so looking at outside forces that may compete with it is not so much of an issue. However, the sheriff's office does need to understand the forces under which it works, the community in which it operates, and other factors regarding its local environment in order to determine how to serve its community in the best possible way and to fulfill its mission statement of protecting and serving the people of the county.
The sheriff's office is funded by the county, and its budget is dependent on the amount of money in the county's coffers, which is partly determined by state budget and partly determined by internal economic forces of the county. So each sheriff's office has different budgets, depending on how much money their department has been allocated by the state and the county. Porter's five forces model does not really come into play in the operations of a sheriff's office. This is because there are no new entrants into the market (the sheriff's office has a monopoly on the she riffing of a county). There are no substitute products or services, as a police department operates on a city level or town level and is separate from the sheriff's office. There is no pricing to drive consumers to other providers, and there are no issues with suppliers regarding the operations of a sheriff's office that could allow a competitor to come in and take the office's place in the community (Porter 1998).
As far as the prospects of the industry go, it is in a very good position to attract new employees, considering the current job market. The sheriff's office pays well, usually better than the police department, and often requires less education to get into the department as a deputy. Attracting recruits has not been a problem for the sheriff's department; however, retaining them has been problematic. The job is dangerous, and even with the good pay and benefits (which are excellent for young people with new families), it is often not enough to retain employees, who feel that their pay should be higher considering the dangers they face. Retention of employees is an issue, so the sheriff's department is continually recruiting new employees to replace those who leave. It is in a constant state of training, and the average length of time someone stays with the sheriff's office is around three years. The key success factors of the sheriff's office are its lack of competition in the market and its attractiveness in terms of pay and benefits to new recruits. Its profit outlook is dependent on public budgeting, which is largely outside the sheriff's office's control, but in all but the most strapped for cash counties, it is usually at least reasonable and enough for the office to operate without much difficulty or hardship (Huselid and Becker 2005).
The sheriff's office is organized from the top down, first with the county sheriff in charge (elected or appointed, depending on the county). Underneath the sheriff are the deputies, then the new hires, recruits, and trainees. The office personnel is underneath that. Above the sheriff are the county commissioners, who are not part of the sheriff's office. Therefore, the sheriff is the top person in the office of the sheriff. This makes for a strong company or organizational infrastructure, as the sheriff is indisputably the one in charge of the organization, and all decisions, save the ones handed to him or her directly from the county commissioners (who have the power to remove the sheriff from office), are made by the sheriff and given to the department at large. The sheriff's office is also largely a political one, at least in terms of budgeting and in who the sheriff is at any given time, as it is tied so closely to elections and to county government. This gives it an environment that is perhaps more potentially subject to change than other traditional corporate organizations, but also one that is, at the same time, more stable, as the politics that influence the sheriff's office are usually pretty stable and do not undergo significant change very often.
The competitive advantage of the sheriff's office is that it does not have any competition. The employees of the sheriff's office do not have to be concerned as to whether or not a competitor will come along and put them out of business. Each county has one sheriff's office, though that office may have satellite branches (and those satellite branches are part of and subject to the main sheriff's office) throughout the county. Unless the budget of the state or county was so greatly reduced that it was no longer able to fund the sheriff's office, the chances of the office closing are practically zero. Even if a sheriff's office were to close due to budget reasons, the employees of that department would likely be able to find positions rather easily in sheriff's offices in neighboring counties or in the local police departments of the cities within the county. Job security at a sheriff's office is pretty strong. Once a person is hired, it is not easy to lose that job except for gross misconduct. Most people who leave the sheriff's office do so voluntarily to take other positions elsewhere (Watson 1994).
The main challenge the sheriff's office faces is in getting new employees on board and keeping them. Attracting new employees isn't so much the issue; it is actually getting them to the point where they go through all of their training and become sheriff's deputies. The training for the sheriff's department tends to be difficult, and not everyone who undertakes it graduates from it successfully. Getting more help for those who are struggling with the training program would help bring more qualified people on board at the sheriff's office. Retaining employees is the main challenge, not so much in the office, but with the deputies in the field. This is because of the dangers involved in the job, which are often not seen to be worth it compared to the pay. The pay, while good, is not as good as many deputies could find in private sector jobs with less danger, even sometimes as security guards for private firms. Increasing the pay of the deputies is a budgetary move that requires funds from the state and county and the approval of the state and county, so in order to increase pay (to include hazard pay, which some sheriff's deputies believe they should get), it would be a matter of politics….not always an easy matter to overcome. However, with a properly prepared and researched proposal, it is possible that a sheriff could convince the state, county, and voters to approve a budget increase that would allow higher pay for sheriff's deputies, which would result in a higher rate of retention among those employees.
Going forward into 2012, getting good recruits through the sheriff's office training program and retaining them beyond the traditional three years average that a deputy stays on with the office is going to be the main challenge of the sheriff's office. Unlike many private sector industries, the sheriff's office is almost always looking for new hires. It is one of the few offices where you will continually find openings. However, this is because the rate of overturn among employees is so high. Still, the high pay, low education requirements, and good benefits are very attractive, especially to people who may have no other good prospects for jobs. There is no shortage of people applying to the sheriff's department. They will often accept recruits with only high school diplomas, whereas the police department usually requires a college degree.
The training program for the sheriff's office is very difficult, however, both physically and intellectually. Not everyone who signs up for it makes it through it. It is not designed to encourage success. But in its efforts to separate the very good from the mediocre, it often discourages those who would be very good deputies in the field through difficult training that frequently has little to do with what the potential deputies would actually experience in the field. The sheriff's office loses many potentially excellent deputies through its excessively difficult training program. It also loses many good employees once those employees complete training, start their jobs, and see that the dangers they face are usually not worth it compared to the pay and benefits they receive. That pay and those benefits seem very good at first, but once a person is in the field and sees…