History of the Sheriff's Office

Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office

The first Sheriff in Grand Traverse County was William H. Case who served from 1851 to 1853.  Current Sheriff, Tom Bensley, is the 34th Sheriff to head the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office.

The Michigan Constitution provides that each organized county shall elect a sheriff whose duties and powers shall be provided by law.  The Office of Sheriff has been charged with a myriad of duties in addition to its peace keeping function.  In addition to traditional functions, a sheriff must take affirmative action to keep the peace such as the detection of criminal conduct by patrol and other means and the apprehension of criminals and the intervention of crimes in progress.

The Sheriff is the principal officer for the Michigan court system having responsibility for court security and civil process of the courts.  The Sheriff is responsible for the establishment, maintenance and operation of the county jail and all ancillary services.  Michigan law provides that the Sheriff is the officer primarily responsible for providing patrol and traffic services on county primary and secondary roads, the enforcement of County and local ordinances, as well as the enforcement of local marine safety rules to include the recovery of drowned bodies.

The Law Enforcement Division has designated officers assigned to general law enforcement and traffic enforcement, who also participate on specialty teams or special focuses to include three K-9 Teams, an Accident Investigation Team, a Dive Team, an Emergency Response Team as well as a Drone Unit.  The Law Enforcement Division also maintains a marine safety section and has an officer assigned to the multi-jurisdictional Traverse Narcotics Team.

The Investigative Services Division Detectives specialize in specific criminal investigations to include computer forensics, crimes against children and fraud, as well as handle complex, in-depth investigations of major crimes (i.e., homicides) within Grand Traverse County.

The Corrections Officers are responsible for the daily operation of the County Jail, court duties and prisoner transports throughout the state.  As well as 6 part-time bailiffs who assist with court duties.

Additionally, our support staff members handle the record keeping and administrative functions of the Sheriff’s Office.