Takeaway: 2023 Western States Sheriff’s Association Conference
The 2023 Western States Sheriff’s Association Conference was held March 5-9, 2023 at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada.
The conference attracts sheriffs from 17 states across the western United States: Washington, Wyoming, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, California, Arizona, Nevada, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Texas, and Oklahoma for networking and training sessions.
Elevatus sent a team to the conference for the first time, in hopes of meeting and engaging with sheriffs who face unique obstacles. Here are our takeaways from the conference:
The WSSA conference – the 30th annual – featured training sessions on profiling school shooters and how to influence public policy, and talks on contemporary detention issues, the history of the office of sheriff, and much more. There was also a movie night and poker tournament, and a keynote address from 1970s western actor Al Barker Jr.
Our team went to network with sheriffs, and learn about the distinct challenges they face. There are a few.
- Drugs and gangs. Sheriffs are seeing an increase of gangs in western jails, and drugs coming in with them. Gangs are now showing up in northern states like Montana, they said, which is concerning.
- Mental health and rehabilitation. Like jails across the country, mental health is a major concern for those in the western states, too. Sheriffs are struggling to determine how to deal with alleged criminals who come to jail with a mental illness. Sheriffs are weighing how to introduce in-jail programming for mental illness, and others are working to better train officers and deputies to deal with mental illnesses on the streets.
- Recidivism. Many sheriffs in the nation’s western states are working to reduce the number of repeat offenders in their jails. Some are considering programs in jail designed to address recidivism.
- Overcoming poor jail design. Many jails in the western states are aging, or downright old, and sheriffs are facing challenges. With many already dealing with low staffing numbers, sheriffs with poorly designed jails are struggling to operate jails with poor infrastructure, bad sight lines, and safety concerns.
The Elevatus team was excited to present our groundbreaking jail designs to numerous sheriffs. Many were impressed with our original housing pod design, which places cells and dayrooms in a pie shape around a central control room, giving correctional officers a 360-degree unobstructed view of inmates.
The Elevatus team agreed: the Western States Sheriff’s Association Conference was well-run and first-class, and we will be back in 2024.