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.
"Walking Tall in Custer County"
Thank you Raised in the West Magazine for your story featuring Custer County Sheriff and WSSA Past President, Tony Harbaugh!
Check out this snippet and be sure to click here to read the full article.
“Upon entering the office of Sheriff Bill Damm, Tony noticed a mark on the frame of the door. Just above the 6-foot-4 measurement was written, “If not above this line, do not apply.” Tony easily passed the first test. The sheriff then had two questions. The first was, “Can you take care of yourself in a fight?” When Tony said he could, then came the second: “When can you start?”
That was June of 1978. Forty-two years later, Tony still puts on a uniform every day representing Custer County’s sheriff’s department, and he does not see himself doing anything different any time soon.
“I’M BLESSED TO BE HERE,” TONY SAID. “I LOVE CUSTER COUNTY AND THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE HERE. THIS WILL ALWAYS BE HOME.”
Click here to read the full piece on Tony Harbaugh.
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.
Find Your Sheriff
The Western States Sheriffs’ Association is comprised of Sheriffs and their command staff from 17 Western States that include Washington, Wyoming, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, California, Arizona, Nevada, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Texas, and Oklahoma. We encourage you to learn more about the top elected law-enforcement official in your county and how you can support the work of your local sheriff’s office.