Supporting the New Sheriff in Town

November means elections and elections often mean change – even for sheriff’s offices. Unfortunately, this change can be difficult and stressful, especially if it means uncertainty for the personnel working at the sheriff’s office. If your agency has a “new sheriff in town,” there are several tips that can help make the transition as seamless—and stress-free—as possible.


To start with, you will want to understand what the new sheriff aims to accomplish during his or her time in office.  The amount of change will depend entirely on the incoming sheriff, including what kind of background he has in law enforcement and what he promised during the campaign. Campaign promises often include reducing costs and improving performance, so the new sheriff may start looking closely at agency processes and questioning what can be done differently.

Public safety software may be one component a new sheriff evaluates when determining where to make changes. To help ease the transition of the new sheriff and get him on board with your software system, it may be helpful to schedule training sessions between the sheriff and your agency’s SAA. Training can help the sheriff understand the features and benefits of the software while also familiarizing him with your agency’s best practices and data entry standards. The SAA can show the sheriff how he can easily pull reports and see statistics on crime rates, crime trends, and productivity. These at-a-glance statistical reports can give the new sheriff a complete picture of the problem areas and crime hotspots, helping him make critical decisions about where to focus the agency’s efforts.

The new sheriff may also find it helpful to attend a vendor’s training seminars and conferences. Spillman’s annual Users’ Conference provides opportunities to learn about the software and now offers an Executive Track that includes classes on leadership, management, and effective data analytics at a reduced price. It also provides a forum where agency decision-makers can share stories, develop regional user groups, and exchange best practices – valuable opportunities for a first-term sheriff.

By helping familiarize the sheriff with the software’s functionality and encouraging him to learn how he and the agency can benefit from it, agency personnel can help ease a new sheriff’s transition. Your Spillman account manager is always available to help bring a new sheriff up to speed, so be sure to rely on them for help during the transition.

Every state has its own protocol for how often sheriffs are elected, for how long, and other details. According to the National Sheriff’s Association:

  • 3,083 sheriffs exist in the United States
  • 41 states elect sheriffs to four-year terms
  • Arizona, Arkansas, and New Hampshire, elect sheriffs to two-year terms.
  • New Jersey elects sheriffs to a three-year term.
  • Maine elects sheriffs to a six-year term.
  • Alaska, Connecticut, and Hawaii do not have the office of sheriff. Alaska does not have county governments, Connecticut has replaced the office with a State Marshal System, and the Hawaii Department of Public Safety does have sheriff deputies but not sheriffs.