Labor Union

National Sheriffs’ Association


Alexandria, VA


Jonathan Thompson

Financials (2018):

Revenue: $5,886,172
Expenses: $6,974,997
Assets: $4,344,650

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The National Sheriffs’ Association is the national trade group representing elected sheriffs, sheriffs’ offices, and sheriff’s deputies across the United States. The association offers police training and information on policing, court security, jail administration, and other activities usually handled by sheriff’s offices across the U.S. The organization also helps local law enforcement agencies secure state and federal homeland security grants. 1

The organization represents sheriffs’ offices at the federal government level by lobbying the White House, Congress and Federal Agencies on pro-law enforcement policies. Policy issues that the organization lobbies on include border security, drug enforcement, traffic safety, and funding for law enforcement communications, equipment, and other resources.  Among the most prominent issues lobbied by the National Sheriffs’ Association is the preservation of civil asset forfeiture and opposition to any reforms surrounding the current practice of civil asset forfeiture,2 a practice under which law enforcement agencies can permanently seize property from individuals not yet convicted of a criminal offense. 3


The current National Sheriffs’ Association traces its roots back to an “inter-State Sheriff’s’ Association” what was founded by sheriffs in Minnesota and surrounding states in 1888. Over the next several decades the name of that organization changed multiple times to include being named the “International Sheriffs’ and Police Association”, the “National Sheriffs’ Association”, the “International Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association” and the “International Sheriffs and Police Association.” That early organization ultimately disbanded in 1938 and in 1940 the current National Sheriffs’ Association was founded in Ohio.  The new national group was founded by members of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association of Ohio who were looking to form a national group for sheriffs with the Sheriff of Akron, Ohio serving as the national association’s first president. 4


The National Sheriffs’ Association focuses much of its energy and influence lobbying the White House, the Department of Justice, Congress, and other federal agencies on behalf of local law enforcement. The organization’s annual conference often draws the President or Attorney General. In February 2020, Attorney General William Barr spoke to the organization to reiterate that the organization has the support of the Trump administration on many policing issues, particularly around immigration restrictionism such as opposing “sanctuary cities” and pressuring jurisdictions to support federal immigration authorities. Barr also noted that Trump was the first president since Lyndon B. Johnson to establish a task force on law enforcement when he created the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. 5

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Among the most controversial policy issues that the National Sheriffs’ Association supports is the preservation of civil asset forfeiture, a practice used by law enforcement to permanently seize property of suspected criminals that then goes to fund local law enforcement agencies. Property is often taken without first securing a conviction, a practice that critics say violates Constitutional protections guaranteeing due process of law and protecting against unreasonable seizures. 6 The National Sheriff’s’ Association maintains that funds seized due to civil asset forfeiture are vital to funding local police work. 7


  1. “About NSA”. National Sheriffs’ Association. Accessed June 11, 2020.
  2. “Government Affairs”. National Sheriffs’ Association. Accessed June 11, 2020.
  3. Williams, Marian R., Jefferson E. Holcomb, Tomislav V. Kovandzic, and Scott Bullock. “Policing for Profit,” March 2010.
  4. “NSA History”. National Sheriffs’ Association. Accessed June 11, 2020.
  5. “Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference”. US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs. February 10, 2020. Accessed June 11, 2020.
  6. Williams, Marian R., Jefferson E. Holcomb, Tomislav V. Kovandzic, and Scott Bullock. “Policing for Profit,” March 2010.
  7. Thompson, Jonathan. “National Sheriffs’ Association: Good intentions don’t keep communities safe (column)” Vail Daily. November 14, 2017. Accessed June 11, 2020.
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National Sheriffs’ Association

Alexandria, VA