Conservators of the Peace

The Office of Sheriff


scalesThomas Jefferson, in his work called “The Value of Constitutions”, wrote, “the office of Sheriff is the most important of all the executive offices in the country.”

After two hundred years, experience has proven that the perspective of Jefferson and our founding fathers are just as valid today as it was when they first perceived of how a free society could be structured.

The office of Sheriff is certainly significant and was, in fact, the first county office established in the United States. Some very outstanding Americans have held the office of County Sheriff, form the earliest days down to our present era. George Washington’s father was an early Sheriff in Colonia Virginia.

The first person to read the Declaration of Independence publicly was John Nixon, the Sheriff in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1776.  According to tradition, the framers of the Declaration of Independence could not decide who should read the document publicly. After a lengthy discourse, it was decided that John Hancock should have the honor. Hancock declined saying that he would already be number one on the blacklist of King George because of his emboldened signature.

After more discussion it was decided that the Sheriff of Philadelphia, John Nixon, would be the first man to read the Declaration of Independence publicly.  Nixon accepted the honor in somewhat the same spirit of Nathan Hale and is reported to have said that he would be happy to lose his life in order to have that distinction.

The Sheriffs of America have indeed played a significant role in the history of our Nation, and the Sheriffs of Oregon are certainly no exception to this heritage.


The Office of Sheriff

2017 Oregon Sheriffs’ Annual Conference

Countdown to Conference


Message from the OSSA President

washington-pat-garrettAs the newly elected president, I am honored to represent all 36 Oregon sheriffs.

The sheriff has historically been the chief executive officer of the county, and this is still true under Oregon law. Elected by you and answering directly to the voters, your sheriff can be an effective voice of the people in the serious work of protecting the community. OSSA enables us to work together to serve you best.

By way of introduction, I am in my second term as the Washington County Sheriff, where deputies serve over a half million residents across 727 square miles of rural areas, urban communities, and cities. Our deputies also operate the only county jail. While Oregon counties are diverse in terms of climate, population, and economic drivers, your sheriffs work together to solve problems and challenges that we have in common.

The sheriffs of America have always played a significant role in the history of our nation; in fact, the office of Sheriff was the first county office established in the United States. Also, the first person to read the Declaration of Independence publicly was Philadelphia Sheriff John Nixon in Pennsylvania in 1776.

I look forward to working together to strengthen the office of Sheriff and the communities we proudly serve. Thank you for your continued support of the men and women on shift every day to keep our diverse and proud communities safe.


Pat Garrett
President and Washington County Sheriff.

Jail vs. Prison … What’s the Difference?

Become a Member of the OSSA

Join your Sheriff in the fight against crimeby becoming an OSSA member today. Join Now!