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U.S. county governments are the main way that millions of Americans interact with government on a daily basis. Every American has bills that need to paid, legal counsel to interact with, and issues that need to be settled with U.S. county governments. While federal and state governments often receive more national press, it is U.S. county governments where millions are incarcerated in their local correctional institution and larger initiatives are often introduced and tested on a small scale. Learning more about U.S. county governments can ensure Americans know more about their government as a whole.
Courts and legal counsel
U.S. county governments have a close connection with the law enforcement process. They are where a large percentage of police officers in the United States are employed. U.S. county governments hire sheriffs to administer local police forces and run a correctional institution. These sheriffs routinely make arrests and handle disputes that go to local courts. They also have multiple connections to the offices-county and offices-Indian that are so critical to maintaining public order for all citizens.
Every county in the United States has a correctional institution and courts where local judges make decisions on the punishment for misdemeanors and the holding of defendants. More serious cases may begin in a local court/correctional institution and then transfer to larger courts for a more adequate venue. No matter the eventual situation, the first interaction that most individuals have after arrest is with an official in a local court.
Executive office, offices-county, and offices-Indian
U.S. county governments are an example of an executive office. Along with city government, they comprise the closest executive office that exists to the people. This office provides a number of different services. It may have offices-county that provide water, trash, and coordinate utility services. These offices-county provide jobs and a point of contact with county government for many citizens.
They may be one of the largest employers in a small county and may provide a stepping stone for larger and more prominent positions. In counties with large Native American populations, there may be an offices-Indian to help handle Native American affairs. These offices-Indian may keep in contact with tribal offices and ensure that the needs of Native American citizens are being met.
Finance & taxation
U.S. county governments play a key role in finance & taxation. Individuals pay property taxes to their U.S. county governments based on the value of their assets and overall expenditures of the county. Those expenditures go to fund a variety of local projects. They can help pay for the schools where children in a county attend. They also help fund local projects such as a county library or a community health center.
Finance & taxation stemming from a county government also helps provide for vulnerable populations. Practically any group that is not fully covered by federal and state finance & taxation may be covered by county programs. This close connection is critical for the millions of Americans who do not always see where their tax dollars are being spent. Local governments show an incredibly close connection between the taxes people pay and their local living situation.
Public health program and public order & safety
County governments are also protectors of public health program and public order & safety. Their police forces are a critical protector of public order & safety. Local police officers help curb and control riots and handle domestic incidents. County police officers are called on a daily basis to break up fights and arrest individuals who are being drunk and disorderly. The local sheriff is the most powerful executive office on a local level.
He or she is often required to maintain law and order and is in charge except for the scenarios where state or federal individuals have to play a role. Legal counsel helps U.S. county governments process individuals who have broken the law and sends them to required locations. Legal counsel also helps provide guidance on the laws that a county government may be breaking in their treatment of the public. A local district attorney may have millions of dollars at their disposal and a wide berth to charge certain cases.
Public health program and the homeless
One often ignored component of public order & safety is the homeless population. County governments, the local executive office, and legal counsel are some of the foremost handlers of the homeless population in the United States. They help to coordinate different organizations that help the homeless and sometimes take a hands-off approach when a homeless population engages in minor breaches of the law. Their treatment of the homeless fits neatly with their overall public health program. Public health is a critical priority for county governments because hospitals on the county level will be the first line of defense in the case of a severe disease outbreak.
In addition to their correctional institution, county governments often hold events where they administer vaccines and perform dental work for free. They hand out information on a number of public health program issues such as drug use and communicable diseases. This information may be going to individuals who would not otherwise be in a position to receive it. Such efforts are critical for aiding the general population and avoiding disease outbreaks that might severely strain county government resources.
Environmental program and courts
County government officials also have an overarching environmental program. The broad environmental program may be composed of dozens or hundreds of employees tasked with enforcing regulations surrounding the environment. This environmental program allows county governments to help protect natural resources and curb the expansion of certain types of development. Local laws and courts may force a company or builder to seek approval from a local environment board before building.
That same environmental program board may be tasked with investigating certain spills and environmental violations from companies. In any situation where a county environment program is too small to handle problems that arise, it is easy for a local government to call in the help of a state government. They can then add a county government fine onto any legal action that may arise.
County governments are critical for the health and safety of millions of Americans. They provide services like finance & taxation, public order & safety, and a tailored environmental program that are often much too granular for a state or federal agency to handle. They are also the closest public institutions to most Americans, especially when they interact with offices-county and offices-Indian. These are some of the few government offices where elections can be swayed by a determined group of a few dozen citizens. These efforts, if successful, can help lead to an individual significantly reshaping their county governments.