The Clay County Sheriff's office is responsible for keeping the peace in Clay County, South Dakota. Clay County covers approximately 414 square miles and has approximately 800 miles of roads and highways. Clay County has 3 incorporated communities, Vermillion, Wakonda, and Irene and two unincorporated communities, Burbank and Meckling. Vermillion operates their own police department and Wakonda and Irene contract with the Clay County Sheriff for law enforcement services. The Sheriff is ultimately responsible for the safety and security of all citizens in Clay County.
As is often the case with the Office of Sheriff, typical duties and responsibilities include the operation of the County Jail, service of warrants and the apprehension and extradition of fugitives, and service of civil process which includes collecting judgments from debtors and serving legal process. Additional duties include the responsibility for the security of the county courthouse including courtroom security. The sheriff and deputies often transport inmates to and from court hearings, doctor visits, to the Clay County Jail from other jurisdictions, and to the South Dakota State Penitentiary when the court's sentence calls for that. Additionally, the sheriff and deputies will perform more common law enforcement functions such as responding to calls for assistance such as reports of crimes, disturbances, motor vehicle accidents, and medical emergencies. The sheriff and deputies investigate all crimes reported to the Sheriff's Office.
In 2016, the Clay County Commission combined the Offices of Sheriff and Coroner. The Sheriff now acts as County Coroner to determine the cause of any death of a person not attended by a physician. The Sheriff completes the death certificates as Coroner and ensures a thorough investigation into all deaths.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office teaches D.A.R.E to the fifth grade students in Clay County schools including those in Vermillion and Wakonda. Furthermore, the Sheriff provides a Deputy Sheriff with a full time assignment to work in the Vermillion and Wakonda schools. Such interaction with students fits well with the Sheriff's Office philosophy of a goal toward community oriented policing and problem solving as a method of effective law enforcement.
Due to its age, safety concerns, and incurable space deficiencies, the Clay County Jail transitioned in 2021 to become a short term holdover jail where incoming arrestees are held for up to 72 hours. Inmates staying in custody longer than 72 hours are housed in jails in other nearby counties at Clay County expense. To provide a long term solution to this problem, Clay County voters approved a $42.8 million dollar bond in 2022 to provide for the construction of a new Clay County Jail and law enforcement center to house the Sheriff’s Office and the Vermillion Police Department. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 with completion expected in 2025.
The staff of the Clay County Sheriff's Office consists of the Sheriff and eight deputies. One of the eight deputies serves full time as a detective and another as the School Resource Officer. Additionally, the Sheriff has one full time administrative assistant, seven full time jailers and three part time jailers.The Clay County Sheriff welcomes comments and concerns regarding the safety of the citizens of Clay County and the services provided to those citizens by the Sheriff's Office.