One voice for the Office of Sheriff

Deputy Sheriff

FAQ

1. What is the National Sheriffs' Association?

NSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among those in the criminal justice and public safety fields.

 

2. When and where was NSA established?

NSA's roots can be traced back to October 1888, when a group of sheriffs in Minnesota and surrounding states formed an organization, which they named the Inter-State Sheriffs' Association. The Articles of Incorporation for the National Sheriffs' Association were filed with the Secretary of State of the state of Ohio on September 26, 1940.

 

3. What does NSA do?

Through the years, NSA has been involved in numerous programs and trainings and other resources to enable sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of criminal justice to perform their jobs in the best possible manner and to better serve the people of their jurisdictions.

 

4. How many Sheriffs are there in the U.S.?

3,083 as of September 1, 2010.

 

5. Are there states that do not have Sheriff's Offices?

Yes. Three states that do not have Sheriff's Offices:

  1. Alaska. No county governments.
  2. Connecticut. Sheriffs have been replaced with a State Marshal System.
  3. Hawaii. There are no Sheriffs in Hawaii but Deputy Sheriffs serve in the Sheriff's Division of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

 

6. What is the difference between a Sheriff and a Police Chief?

A Sheriff is generally (but not always) the highest, usually elected, law-enforcement officer of a county. Chiefs of Police usually are municipal employees who owe their allegiance to a city. Oftentimes, Chiefs are appointed by the Mayor of a city; or, they may be appointed by or subject to the confirmation of a Police Commission. Click here for more information.

 

7. How long is the term of office for a Sheriff?

Sheriffs are elected to four-year terms in 41 states, two-year terms in three states, a three-year term in one state and a six-year term in one state. State by State Election Chart (pdf)

 

8. What is the difference between a Sheriff's Office and a Sheriff's Department? 

Black's Law Dictionary defines the terms as follows:

DEPARTMENT: "One of the major divisions of the executive branch of the government....generally, a branch or division of governmental administration."

OFFICE: "A right, and correspondent duty, to exercise public trust as an office. A public charge of employment... the most frequent occasions to use the word arise with reference to a duty and power conferred on an individual by the government, and when this is the connection, public office is a usual and more discriminating expression... in the constitutional sense, the term implies an authority to exercise some portion of the sovereign power either in making, executing, or administering the laws."

The Office of Sheriff is not simply another "department" of county government. The internal operation of an Office of Sheriff is the sole responsibility of the elected Sheriff. County department heads are subordinate to a county governing body, because a "department" is truly only a division of county government.  The Office of Sheriff is a statutory/constitutional office having exclusive powers and authority under state law and/or state constitution.  These inherent powers are not subject to the dictates of a local county governing body.

The Office of Sheriff has inherent common law powers and sovereignty granted under a state's constitution and/or state law.  It is different from a county department which derives its limited authority from whatever is delegated to is by statute or by state constitution.

The use of the term "Department" implies being a subordinate unit of government (i.e.  subordinate to local government - "delegated" authority from county government to a Department). The use of the term "Office" implies inherent powers and independent sovereignty.

 

9. How many members does NSA Have?

As of September 1, 2010, NSA has more than 18,000 members. 

Click here for more information about membership.

 

10. Who is the current President of NSA?

Sheriff Michael Leidholt, Hughes County, SD

 

11. Who is the current Executive Director of NSA?

Aaron D. Kennard, retired Sheriff of Salt Lake County, Utah

 

12. What does the National Sheriffs' Association badge signify?

The National Sheriffs' Association badge has heraldic significance.  The shield denotes defense, protection, and faith. The mace denotes authority.  The olive wreath denotes peace. The circle surrounding the emblem denotes eternity. The five points of the star denote friendship, guidance, honesty, integrity, and merit.