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 - 10/20/2020

Statement from the Washington State Sheriffs Association on the continued election of County Sheriffs.

For Release - 7/21/2020


As elected Sheriffs, public safety leaders, community members and other elected officials work to develop and implement solutions regarding concerns over policing practices and operations, it is imperative that these efforts reflect a balanced, strategic approach to combating crime and prioritizing community safety.

Unfortunately, too many states, counties and cities, large and small, across the United States are hastily and without proper forethought, implementing stark measures that do not get to the core of enhancing community-police engagement. Further, while politically expedient, these misguided and shortsighted measures will likely have adverse, negative impacts for years to come.

Which policy changes? The already implemented efforts range from removing 911 call centers from police departments and / or Sheriff’s Offices, to having public works employees be responsible for traffic enforcement, to removing school resource officers from schools, to slashing police and Sheriffs budgets by millions of dollars. These changes simply put greater distance between community and public safety.

Is this the measure of success?

Is this what communities want?

What is the evidence base for these policy choices?

Comprehensive criminal justice reform is a complex challenge. Complexity takes time and it requires the full engagement of all parties, including, but not limited to,
Sheriffs, police, prosecutors, the judiciary, prison and probation officials, the health care community, mental health providers, the private sector, community leaders, and elected officials.

Effective lasting change will require resources, commitment, and well thought out approaches. The Washington State Sheriff’s Association, which consists of Sheriff’s from Washington’s 39 counties, support these efforts. As elected officials and dedicated public safety leaders, we will continue to embrace the challenge, instill strong values into our agencies at all ranks, hold ourselves accountable for our actions, and work through these turbulent times to build a more cohesive future for our communities.

We are bound by our duty and the oath of office we swore to uphold the state and federal constitutions.  Our commitment to public service, the preservation of life, and our responsibility for ensuring our communities are safe. We will not waver.