The Lawkeeper of Defiance is much like a town sheriff, working for the mayor to keep Defiance safe and investigate criminal activity.
There are three job titles held within the lawkeeper's office: chief lawkeeper, lawkeeper, and deputy lawkeeper. They are often collectively referred to simply as lawkeepers, and distinction is rarely made between chief lawkeeper and lawkeeper when speaking. While there may not be much difference in their day to day duties, the chief lawkeeper is ultimately in charge of the entire unit and only defers to the mayor. For example, when Jessica "Berlin" Rainer (a lawkeeper) and Irisa Nolan (a deputy) were reluctant to work together, Joshua Nolan (chief lawkeeper) had final say in the dispute. And when Nolan and Irisa wanted to end a shaming ritual, Amanda Rosewater (mayor) had final say in allowing it to continue.
- maintaining peace
- providing security at events
- investigating crime
- holding criminals for transport to other facilities
- confiscating illegal weapons
- holding weapons from visitors for the duration of their stay in Defiance
- protecting the citizens of Defiance from both foreign and domestic disputes
During the Earth Republic's occupation of the town, they did not change all of the town's laws, but enacted much higher levels of surveillance, harsher punishments, and limited free speech.
In the first two seasons, there was only one active lawkeeper at any given time. As of season 3, there are two concurrent lawkeepers. Berlin was given a badge after Nolan went missing at the end of season 2. When he returned, he resumed his job as Lawkeeper while Berlin also retained the title. After Nolan went missing again at the end of season 3, Irisa was given a lawkeeper's badge. As of that episode, Berlin was also still a lawkeeper. It is unclear if either has taken on the role of chief lawkeeper.
Lawkeepers work out of an office near the middle of town. The first floor of the building contains the office and jail. Petty criminals and drunks are held in the Lawkeeper’s single jail cell. People facing longer sentences are either sent to Camp Reverie, a work camp about a half-day’s journey into The Badlands east of town, or held until they can be sent to Vegas Prison by land coach.
The second floor of the lawkeeper's office is accessible by outdoor stairs leading to an apartment and upper deck. Because it is such a demanding job, Lawkeeper Garret Clancy placed a shipping container on top of the office and converted it into an apartment. Nolan and Irisa both live in this apartment. They each have a bedroom in a converted red shipping container.
Both the lawkeeper and deputy badges are a variation on the star shape.
- Garret Clancy, Chief Lawkeeper (former), presumably hired by Nicolett Riorden, accidentally killed in a gunfight
- Joshua Nolan, Chief Lawkeeper (unknown), hired by Amanda Rosewater, last seen on an Omec ship/whereabouts unknown
- Tommy Lasalle, Lawkeeper (former), temporarily promoted from deputy by Niles Pottinger, returned to deputy and then left to join the Earth Republic before his death
- Jessica "Berlin" Rainer, Lawkeeper (active), hired by Amanda Rosewater
- Irisa Nolan, Lawkeeper (active), promoted from deputy by Amanda Rosewater
It is unclear if Irisa or Berlin took the title of Chief Lawkeeper either permanently or temporarily during Nolan's absences. The series finale leaves Nolan's fate unknown, following the pattern of Nolan either intentionally or unintentionally leaving Defiance in the finale before returning at the start of the next season to pick up his badge again.
- Tommy Lasalle (former), hired by Garret Clancy, temporarily promoted to lawkeeper before returning to deputy and then leaving to join the Earth Republic before his death
- Irisa Nolan (former), hired by Joshua Nolan, promoted to Lawkeeper by Amanda Rosewater
- Amanda Rosewater (former) hired by Joshua Nolan on a temporary basis to solve Deirdre Lamb’s murder, left after investigation concluded
- Frei Poole (active), presumably hired by Jessica "Berlin" Rainer
- Enriquez (former), killed by Stahma Tarr
Several unnamed deputies have also appeared. One male and one female deputy were with Clancy when he saved Nolan and Irisa from Saberwolves. A deputy guarding Ben Daris was tasered by Mr. Birch.