National Sheriffs' Association

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National Sheriffs' Association
Founded 1940
Type Trade Association
Focus Professional development, congressional advocacy
Area served
United States United States
Method Annual conferences, Sheriff magazine, Deputy magazine, media attention, technical assistance, trainings and seminars

The National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) is a U.S. trade association dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among U.S. sheriffs, their deputies and others in the fields of criminal justice and public safety. Since its founding in 1940, NSA has been the one voice of the nation's sheriffs in Washington, D.C. As one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the country, NSA is the leading advocate on law enforcement, criminal justice and public safety issues. Its Government Affairs Division, in conjunction with the Congressional Affairs Committee, develops the Association's policy positions and represents the Association before the United States Congress, the White House, and the various federal agencies.

A sheriff generally serves as the highest, usually elected, law enforcement officer of a county. Over 99% of the nation's sheriffs are elected. The political election of a person to serve as a law enforcement leader is an almost uniquely American tradition. The practice has been followed in the British Channel Island of Jersey since at least the 16th Century.


The NSA provides resources, technical assistance, opportunities for professional development, information, congressional advocacy, to criminal justice practitioners. Its annual conferences provide networking opportunities, discussion, review and formation of the Association's national policy positions on critical criminal justice and homeland security issues, and training and seminars for the Nation's sheriffs and sheriff deputies. During the 2009 Annual Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano gave the keynote address focusing on the Department's law enforcement priorities including border security and immigration. Nominee of Republican Party for President, Senator John McCain, delivered his crime speech[1] as the Keynote Speaker[2] at the 2008 Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Chartered in 1940, the NSA represents over 3,000 elected sheriffs nationwide and has a membership of over 22,000. Its headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia.


The Articles of Incorporation for NSA were filed on September 26, 1940, with the Ohio Secretary of State.

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.

Certified Homeland Protection Professional Credential

Certified Homeland Protection Professional is a professional certification established by the National Sheriffs' Association in partnership with the National Domestic Preparedness Coalition, through the Global Center for Threat, Risk, and Vulnerability. The designation certifies that individuals have demonstrated competency, knowledge, skills, and abilities in the blended discipline of Homeland Protection, through a rigorous qualification and testing program.[3]

Key Programs

  • Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement to deter crime and make communities safer. Sponsored by the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), Neighborhood Watch can trace its roots back to the days of colonial settlements, when night watchmen patrolled the streets. The modern version of Neighborhood Watch was developed in response to requests from sheriffs and police chiefs who were looking for a crime prevention program that would involve citizens and address an increasing number of burglaries. Launched in 1972, Neighborhood Watch counts on citizens to organize themselves and work with law enforcement to keep a trained eye and ear on their communities, while demonstrating their presence at all times of day and night. (The program took off quickly: in just ten years, NSA data showed that 12 percent of the population was involved in a Neighborhood Watch.)
  • National Sheriffs' Institute (NSI) boasts one of the nation's most respected training opportunities available for new sheriffs. Originally conceived in 1973 by the late Ferris E. Lucas and enabled by a grant from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, the NSI was established in response to an expressed need by sheriffs to meet the rapidly changing demands of the office. Through several years of development and research conducted by the University of Southern California's School of Public Administration, a two-week program designed uniquely for first-term sheriffs was developed to enhance and develop the executive leadership skills of the sheriff.


Its Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer is Jonathan Thompson, former Assistant Secretary at FEMA. The Deputy Executive Director and COO is John Thompson, retired police chief. The 2015 - 16 President of the Association is Sheriff Danny Glick of Wyoming.

See also