Washington State Sheriffs' Association
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Washington State Sheriffs

Sheriff's Line"The Office of Sheriff is one of antiquity. It is the oldest law enforcement office known in the common law system, and it has always been accorded with great dignity and high trust" - Walter H. Anderson, in Sheriffs, Coroners and Constables.

The Sheriffs of Washington are elected and are constitutional officers within the Constitution of the State of Washington.

In order to improve and provide effective service and protection to all citizens of Washington, the 39 Sheriffs joined together in 1984 to form this Association.   This joining together of the Sheriffs has allowed the Sheriffs to assist each other in fulfilling their duties and obligations to the people of this state as the chief law enforcement officers of their respective counties.

WSSA Mission Statement

To better serve and protect the people of Washington State, and to uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington, and the United States, the mission of the Washington State Sheriff’s Association (WSSA) is to promote ethics, professionalism, leadership development, training and dialogue among its members and the law enforcement community.

WSSA Goals

  1. To preserve and protect the office of Sheriff.

  2. To be a unified voice addressing local, state, and federal lawmakers on criminal justice issues.

  3. To improve public awareness of criminal justice issues.

  4. To study emerging common issues and develop responses.

  5. To maintain a close working relationship with WASPC on issues of mutual concern.

  6. To provide a centralized body through which prompt cooperation may be had with other public officials and bodies in performance of their duties.

  7. To provide immediate support to fellow sheriffs, law enforcement officers, and their respective agencies in times of need.

RCW 36.28.010
General duties.

The sheriff is the chief executive officer and conservator of the peace of the county. In the execution of his office, he and his deputies:

(1) Shall arrest and commit to prison all persons who break the peace, or attempt to break it, and all persons guilty of public offenses;

(2) Shall defend the county against those who, by riot or otherwise, endanger the public peace or safety;

(3) Shall execute the process and orders of the courts of justice or judicial officers, when delivered for that purpose, according to law;

(4) Shall execute all warrants delivered for that purpose by other public officers, according to the provisions of particular statutes;

(5) Shall attend the sessions of the courts of record held within the county, and obey their lawful orders or directions;

(6) Shall keep and preserve the peace in their respective counties, and quiet and suppress all affrays, riots, unlawful assemblies and insurrections, for which purpose, and for the service of process in civil or criminal cases, and in apprehending or securing any person for felony or breach of the peace, they may call to their aid such persons, or power of their county as they may deem necessary.

RCW 36.28.011
Duty to make complaint.

In addition to the duties contained in RCW 36.28.010, it shall be the duty of all sheriffs to make complaint of all violations of the criminal law, which shall come to their knowledge, within their respective jurisdictions.


Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza is the current president of the Washington State Sheriffs’ Association. Sheriff Snaza is an active member, and currently the President-Elect, of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs as well as several other local and state professional organizations.


Statement regarding I-1639 from the Washington State Sheriffs Association (Posted 1/2/2019):

Initiative 1639 makes significant changes to the firearm laws of the State of Washington.  The Washington State Sheriffs Association publicly opposed Initiative 1639 prior to the election.  As the elected Sheriffs of our respective counties, we expressed our concern that the initiative placed greater restrictions on law-abiding citizens while creating unreasonable expectations regarding how such restrictions would be enforced.  These concerns continue to exist today.

The initiative is being challenged in court, and concerns a topic about which many of us feel very strongly -- our rights as protected by the Second Amendment.  As elected Sheriffs, we are sworn to uphold all rights protected by the Constitution. First and foremost, we are sworn to uphold the Rule of Law and the Constitution.  We reaffirm our strong support for the Rule of Law and for the Courts to be the separate but equal branch of our government that interpret that law.

In recognition of this separation of powers we encourage all residents of our state to join us in balancing our opinions and beliefs on this issue with our commitment to our Oath of Office and to the Rule of Law, and ask that you work alongside us to resolve our differences within the framework of the Constitution. 

As with many other laws, the application of Initiative 1639 will undoubtedly vary from county to county across the State, based on local priorities and resources available.  We will continue to monitor the process as the Courts weigh in on any challenges, and look forward to working with the people of the State of Washington to improve public safety in all of our communities.