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.


Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones is the current president of the Washington State Sheriffs’ Association. Sheriff Jones is an active member, and is also currently a member of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Executive Board.


For Release
May 1, 2020


The coronavirus public health emergency and the resulting restrictions and disruptions to our lives and the economy has been difficult for every person, every business, and every community.  Each community across this state is diverse and have experienced the health and economic impacts in different ways.  While we continue to observe all the protocols to address this very real public health threat, we ask the Governor to work quickly to open parts of our economy that follow health guidelines.
We respectfully ask that as he considers adjustments under the Stay at Home order, the Governor work with local elected officials, including Sheriffs, to allow appropriate local control and decisions based on local circumstances.  All of us understand the serious nature of this public health crisis.  We must trust our residents, our businesses, and each other and work with local elected officials, in consultation with local public health departments, to assist in managing adjustments as we move forward.


April 22, 2020


Washington’s 39 sheriffs are independently elected in their counties but we all share a common goal of protecting public safety and public health in response to the unique challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.  We look forward to the Governor’s detailed plan on how we can work together to reopen our economy while protecting public health.

We have worked diligently to help our communities implement social distancing and other means to reduce the spread of the virus.  People have shown they understand the severity of the situation and will continue to do all they can to keep themselves, their families, and neighbors safe and healthy. 

Our communities are diverse and as local leaders we will continue to help explain why these disruptions to our lives are necessary and important.  Working with our local public health agencies, we will provide an approach that balances the needs of health, the economy, and our families.  We need to trust, engage, and empower Washingtonians to continue health safety measures while adjustments to restrictions are considered and implemented. 

The Governor has issued the order under his authority in this crisis.  The responsibility of our legislative branch is to write law, the responsibility of our judicial branch is to judge law, the responsibility of law enforcement is to enforce law.   We are committed to educate, engage, and in extreme situations where public safety and health are at risk, use our discretion in considering the appropriate level of enforcement.  It is what we have always done, and will continue to do, during this crisis.

The citizens we serve expect and trust us to do what we have been empowered to do—not more, not less, but with compassion and discretion.