Special Deputy Commissions & Limits of Authority

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This directive is for internal use only and does not enlarge an employee’s civil liability in any way. The directive should not be construed as creating a higher duty of care, in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party civil claims against employees. Violations of this directive, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office for non-judicial administrative action in accordance with the rules and laws governing employee discipline.
APPROVED BY: Sheriff Ken Christesen EFFECTIVE DATE: 2/26/2017


This policy establishes guidelines for the issuance of, and defines the limits of authority for, San Juan County Sheriff's Office special deputy commissions.


The Sheriff has the authority under state statute (NMSA 4-41-10 1978) to appoint respectable and orderly persons as “Special Deputies” to serve any particular order, writ or process, or to preserve the peace. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office recognizes three classes of special deputies which fulfill this need: certified, reserve, and law enforcement related. Special deputy commissions are given to further the mission of the Sheriff’s Office and provide better law enforcement services to the citizens of San Juan County.

The Sheriff may, at his discretion, issue an honorary special deputy commission to those people who maintain a high level of honesty and integrity in all aspects of their lives and embrace the mission of the Sheriff’s Office. Honorary special deputy commissions hold no implicit or explicit law enforcement authority and are symbolic in nature.


The following definitions shall apply for the purposes of this policy:

  • Certified Special Deputy – A certified and commissioned peace officer from a law enforcement agency operating within San Juan County also commissioned as a special deputy.

  • Honorary Special Deputy – A person symbolically commissioned as a special deputy.

  • Law Enforcement Related Special Deputy – A person from a local law enforcement related entity who is commissioned as a special deputy in order to enhance law enforcement operations.

  • Reserve Special Deputy – A San Juan County Sheriff’s Office volunteer commissioned as a special deputy to perform limited duties under the direction of a full-time deputy.



Special deputy commissions are issued by, and at the discretion of, the Sheriff. When a special deputy commission is given, that person will take the oath of office for the position of special deputy. Each person will be photographed and provided with an identification card. This card, which is the property of the Sheriff’s Office, will clearly state the category of special deputy that he or she falls under.

Due to the unique position of special deputies having access to Sheriff’s Office facilities or being involved with or around NCIC transactions, as well as the requirements set forth in the Sheriff’s Office Building Access Policy, all persons receiving a special deputy commission must undergo a fingerprinted background check prior to receiving the commission. An exception for this lies with certified and sworn personnel who have already undergone a fingerprinted background check through their respective law enforcement agency.

The chief or head of any law enforcement agency or related entity desiring to have their employee(s) commissioned as a special deputy must sign the “Deputy Sheriff Commissions Agreement.”


Special deputy commissions given to officers from outside agencies working within San Juan County are for the purpose of providing those officers the authority to enforce laws outside their normal jurisdictions and are limited to the following circumstances:

  • When participating in multi-jurisdictional law enforcement efforts such as a Sheriff's Office sponsored DWI Task Force, the Region II Narcotics Task Force, or other special enforcement activities which may be defined by the Sheriff on a case-by-case basis.
  • To give the officer the authority to act when travelling outside their normal area of jurisdiction during the lawful performance of their duties or during other department sponsored activities and a crime is committed in their presence.
  • When an officer is outside their normal area of jurisdiction and a crime requiring immediate action is committed in their presence.
  • To be able to conduct routine investigative duties for ongoing cases.

Officers employed by other agencies who are acting under the authority of a special deputy commission are expected to act in accordance with the provisions of this policy as well as the Sheriff's Office Law Enforcement Code of Ethics Policy, both of which are provided at the time of commissioning.

When an officer performs law enforcement duties under the authority of a special deputy commission, that officer is acting under the scope and accountability of their employing agency.


Reserve special deputy (AKA reserve deputy) commissions are only issued to those persons who have successfully completed the Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy training program. The Sheriff authorizes reserve deputies to wear the prescribed uniform and perform limited duties associated with those of a deputy only while they are on-duty and under the direction of a full-time deputy. Reserve deputies holding this commission are governed by the Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy Program Policy.

By state statute, this commission alone is not an authorization for reserve deputies to carry a concealed weapon.


When a valid need is present, the Sheriff may commission select employees from non-law enforcement agencies who work closely with the Sheriff’s Office as special deputies. These commissions are there to facilitate the efficiency of law enforcement operations and support the mission of the Sheriff’s Office. An example of a non-law enforcement agency who qualifies under this policy is the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

The limit of authority granted to San Juan County Adult Detention Center personnel holding a special deputy commission is restricted to serving misdemeanor warrants on inmates already incarcerated as well as people turning themselves in to the jail for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant.

By state statute, this commission alone is not an authorization for law enforcement related special deputies to carry a concealed weapon.


The honorary special deputy commission is token in nature and holds no law enforcement authority. By state statute, this commission alone is not an authorization for honorary special deputies to carry a concealed weapon.


All special deputy commissions expire at the end of the issuing Sheriff’s term.

Because special deputy commissions are issued at the will of the Sheriff, they may be revoked at any time and without any property right or grievance considerations.

A certified special deputy’s commission will expire if the officer’s employment with their agency is terminated by any means. The Sheriff, Chief, or agency head may revoke a special deputy commission granted to an officer at any time, with or without cause, by written notice to the officer and to the employing agency. In the event an officer holding a special deputy commission separates from employment with their agency, or a special deputy commission is revoked by anyone other than the Sheriff, the agency should notify the Sheriff’s Office of this change in status and collect the commission card from the employee to be returned to the Sheriff’s Office.


The Executive Office Assistant will maintain copies of all Deputy Sheriff Commission Agreements signed by outside agencies.


  1. Right to carry arms; deputies; appointment [4-41-10 NMSA 1978 (2006)]
  2. SJCSO Policy IT-600.00 “Building Access”
  3. SJCSO Policy ADMN-104.00 “Code of Ethics”
  4. SJCSO Policy ADMN-110.00 “Reserve Deputy Program”
  5. Deputy Sheriff Commissions Agreement