How to Become a Sheriff in Washington?

Sheriffs in Washington are elected. They are considered to be constitutional officers within the Constitution of the State. The 39 sheriffs of the state of Washington formed the Washington State Sheriff’s Association in 1984. By joining together to form the Sheriff’s Association, these officials have ensured assistance to each other in fulfilling their duties and obligations to the people of the state.

The Washington State Sheriff’s Association has laid down the following goals for all Sheriffs in the state to follow:

  • To preserve and protect the office of Sheriff.
  • To be a unified voice addressing local, state, and federal lawmakers on criminal justice issues.
  • To improve public awareness of criminal justice issues.
  • To study emerging common issues and develop responses.
  • To maintain a close working relationship with WASPC on issues of mutual concern.
  • To provide a centralized body through which prompt cooperation may be had with other public officials and bodies in performance of their duties.
  • To provide immediate support to fellow sheriffs, law enforcement officers, and their respective agencies in times of need.
How to Become a Sheriff in Washington
How to Become a Sheriff in Washington

Duties of a Sheriff in Washington

The sheriff is considered to be the chief executive officer and conservator of peace in his county. The exact work requirements of sheriffs in the state might vary across counties, but generally, all sheriffs perform the following duties in the State of Washington:

  • Arresting and imprisoning all persons responsible for disrupting peace in the county and being guilty of any public offense
  • Defending the county against people who riot or intend to endanger its peace
  • Executing court orders against criminals within the county
  • Executing warrants where required
  • Attending the sessions of courts in the county and obeying lawful orders
  • Preserving the peace of their respective counties, suppressing any riots or unlawful gatherings

Requirements to Become a Sheriff in Washington

 The position of a sheriff in most states is a county-level position that is filled through elections. Therefore, the exact requirements to become a sheriff in Washington would depend on each county’s individual criteria.

However, in general terms, the following requirements are applicable across most counties in the state:

  • Candidate must be a citizen of the United States
  • Candidate must be more than 18 years of age
  • Candidate should be living in the place where he wants to become the sheriff – this is not a requirement in every county, so make sure you check the exact residency criteria before applying
  • Candidate should have at least a high school diploma or GED
  • Candidate needs to be in a good physical and mental shape

Steps to Become a Sheriff in Washington

The road to becoming a sheriff in Washington would be slightly different in each county. Bear in mind that the following steps are meant to serve as general guidelines. For exact details, you will have to visit your county’s official website or its office.

Step 1: Become a Police Officer

Before you can begin your application for sheriff, you will need some law enforcement experience. Getting into a police academy is a great way to start the process. A police academy would teach you the necessary skills that are bound to come in use when you become a sheriff. You will be taught about subjects such as crime scene management, crowd control and witness questioning, among other things.

Step 2: Get law enforcement experience

Working as a police officer would be an ideal way to get the necessary law enforcement experience. Different counties have their own specific guidelines regarding the kind of experience preferred. Some might require a year or two of experience, while others might ask for at least five years of work experience as a police officer.

Step 3: Get a degree in criminal justice

While this is not a requirement in all counties or states, aspiring sheriffs may want to invest in an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related subject. This would not only expose you to subjects that would later help you in your job as a sheriff, but a higher education degree would also increase the voters’ confidence in your abilities to lead.

Step 4: Run for a Sheriff’s Office in Washington

Once you have fulfilled all the relevant requirements, you may start the application process which would include the following:

  • Pass a written exam
  • Pass an in-detail interview
  • Clear a background check and a physical fitness exam
Step 5: File the necessary paperwork

Make sure all your documents are in order before you put in a formal application for the office of sheriff in your desired county.

Step 6: Begin your campaign

Since the position of a sheriff is elected, you will have to carry out a proper campaign, with fundraising activities and speeches, etc. You would want your message to be heard by as diverse a population as possible.  You are advised to assemble a proper campaign committee that helps you set up media interviews, give out fliers or increase the general awareness about your goals for the county

Step 7: Get elected and take the oath

If you win the elections, you will be required to take an oath of loyalty before you can begin working as the sheriff. After signing a contract, you may assume office. You will serve a term of four years, as per the law in most jurisdictions.

How much does a Sheriff make in Washington?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Sheriff’s Patrol Officers as a separate category. This category earned an annual mean income of $78,600 as of May 2017, which is higher than the national mean wage of $64,490.

O*NET OnLine predicts the state wide job growth rate of 11% in this field between 2016 and 2026.

The prospects for aspiring sheriffs are certainly looking bright in Washington. So if you are planning to run for the position in your county, now would be the ideal time to go for it.