Western States
Sheriffs’ Association

Come In. Connect. Collaborate.


Sheriffs in the Western US face unique challenges.

You don’t have to face them alone.

A WSSA Membership will help you:

Build an alliance when facing distinctive concerns

Develop partnerships among Sheriffs from neighboring states

Connect with other Sheriffs who understand your experiences

Find an avenue to discuss matters unique to the Western U.S.

We know the role of Sheriff in the western United States is complex.


You want to serve your community with confidence and expertise. The problem is, Sheriffs in the Western U.S. often feel isolated—confronting each pressing matter independently. With such diverse terrain that includes large cities, sparse rural areas, massive federal lands, facing all of the issues that arise can feel like a constant uphill climb.


At Western States Sheriffs Association, we get it.


We know how important connection and collaboration are to law enforcement executives. A western Sheriff must balance matters like tribal concerns, floods, fires, and search and rescue alongside jails and other traditional responsibilities. That’s why we offer partnerships and provide timely resources. We help empower the office of Sheriff as we face concerns entirely unique in the western U.S.

Develop partnerships for the concerns you face every day.


Registration Is easy and affordable for even small agencies


We meet annually In Reno, NV and offer training opportunities throughout the year.

Strengthen your Service to Your Community

Protect the Interests of your community and serve them well.

Diamond Sponsors


Platinum Sponsors


Gold Sponsors


Our Mission

The mission of the Western States Sheriffs’ Association is to assist sheriffs and their offices with federal and state legislative issues, address policy and procedural matters, develop guidelines to promote uniformity in matters that are important to sheriffs of the western United States and to work together to keep the office of the Sheriff strong.

A Message From Our President

Dear Fellow Sheriffs, Deputies, and Support Staff

Like many of you, my story is not unique. I was born and raised in Wyoming which was the foundation of a life of hard work, sacrifice, and a determination to get the job done. After two tours of duty in the Unites States Army I entered my law enforcement career with the Hobbs Police Department in Hobbs, New Mexico. I served for 22 years and retired in 2014.  During my time with the Hobbs Police Department, I served in numerous capacities such as Patrol, Swat, K-9, Criminal Investigations, ATF Task Force Agent, and Internal Affairs to name a few. My commitment to service did not end there and in 2018, I was elected to the Office of Lea County Sheriff where I continue to serve.

The Lea County Sheriff’s Office is comprised of 82 sworn deputies and 11 non-sworn staff and is currently expanding. The Lea County Sheriff’s Office is a full-service office to include patrol, investigations, K-9, Swat, traffic unit, explorer post, and reserve deputy program. The Lea County Sheriff’s Office serves approximately 80,000 citizens comprising approximately 4,400 square miles which is rich in agriculture and oil production.

As I look to the year ahead, I’m excited and humbled to be your 2023-2024 President for the Western States Sheriffs’ Association. We have many issues facing Western Sheriffs today that are complex but I’m confident, by working together, we can better serve our offices as well as our communities. Below I’ve highlighted key points for my vision of 2023-2024 which are issues important to the Western States Sheriff’s Association as well as myself.




The Story of the Sheriff’s Saddle

It’s a plain saddle, not covered in fancy silver Conchos or a lot of tooling. This is a practical, tough working saddle. The saddle sets empty of a rider, representing that the Office of Sheriff will have many occupants over time. You will notice that the stirrups on this saddle are adjustable, representing its need for adaptability to the persons who will occupy the saddle over time.

Attached along the right side is a scabbard and rifle representing the dangers that a sheriff will face while in office. He must be prepared to bravely face those dangers.

Attached to the back of the saddle are leather saddle bags. In the right saddlebag, you will find an ammunition pouch. That pouch carries an extra box of ammunition for the Sheriff’s rifle. This represents the dedication and endurance a Sheriff must demonstrate as he must be prepared for a long, tough fight. Also, in the right saddle bag is a Bible. The Bible represents the Sheriff’s commitment to a cause greater than himself. It represents honor, integrity, and eternal thoughts.

In the left saddlebag, protected in a leather pouch, are copies of the United States Constitution. The Sheriff must keep his solemn word to uphold and defend this sacred document.

Sitting next to the saddle is the Sheriff’s hat. Throughout his work, the Sheriff must protect his vision. He must be able to see his way clearly, and his hat protects him from the sun, the wind, and the rain.

Hanging off the saddle horn is a bridle and a set of spurs. The bridle and reins represent the Sheriff’s responsibility for directing his agency. The Sheriff also uses the spurs to signal the need to move forward or to pick up the pace, and a touch of the reins slows things down. Over time, a wise and practiced Sheriff learns to give subtle cues by simply shifting his weight in the saddle and finds that he only needs a light touch of the reins and spurs.

The Sheriff also carries a supply of hardtack in his saddlebags and a canteen of water slung around the saddle horn. The sheriff needs these things to maintain his strength. Tied behind his saddle is a bedroll. The bedroll represents the many long and cold nights that the Sheriff will spend away from his home.

In addition to the bedroll, there is a slicker draped across the back of his saddle. Throughout the journey, the Sheriff will encounter many storms. He must be prepared to weather the storms and do so under the protection of his duster.

Contributed by Sheriff Justin Smith (Ret.) Larimer County, Colorado