AURORA, Colo. — Boundary County Sheriff Dave Kramer became the first sheriff from Boundary County to participate and graduate from the National Sheriffs’ Institute (NSI) held in Aurora, Colo., on Sept. 24-28.
This was the 115th session of the NSI and is the only national executive development program designed for sheriffs. The program is provided at no cost and is co-sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) (see infobox on A10).
“I had heard about it through the Idaho Sheriff’s Association and from someone who had gone through it before,” said Kramer. “It is free training available to first term sheriffs and it came highly recommended, not only for the networking, but for the leadership aspect that you can obtain from it.”
The class size was small, with only around 30 students, and a sheriff must submit an application and be accepted into the program.
“They are small class sizes, which is good because there is a lot of small group interaction,” explained Kramer.
The training tackled many of the contemporary challenges facing America’s sheriffs today, so they may provide effective leadership for the public good in areas such as public safety, criminal justice system policy, community relations, and organization effectiveness and efficiency.
The class brought in a wide variety of sheriffs from all over the country, including a sheriff from Texas with more than 900 employees, and a sheriff from New Jersey who has a jail that holds more than 1,200 people. Others were comparable to Boundary County.
“One thing that was interesting throughout the week, is that a lot of our challenges and issues are the same, just different sizes, like the jail populations, the changing population for jails, the demographics of females and the drug issues that are coming in,” said Kramer.
They discussed the ways to properly continue to take care of what needs to be done, at the same time trying to ensure that people do not become repeat offenders.
“From that standpoint, it was excellent training,” remarked Kramer.
The class emphasized the importance of individual leadership and its role in building a strong team, at the same time, strengthening the executive team.
“I don’t think that I have taken that many personality tests in years,” Kramer said with a laugh. “They talk about our leadership styles. Just about everything that you can test or examine.”
Once they received the results from the tests, they then worked through how that applied to the role of sheriff. One of the other benefits of the class was networking. Kramer was one of three sheriffs from the northwest, with the other two coming from Oregon.
“The sheriff in Oregon has an active, ongoing citizen’s academy, so I am going to pull in some of the material that he uses, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Kramer. “I would like to try and offer a citizen’s academy in the spring for our community.”
Another bonus of the class was access to a library and a wealth of free information that the sheriffs could bring home with them, including training information for detention deputies and information on jail’s best practices
“These are other resources that we can reach out to, so when we encounter new challenges at our jail, which right now we are certified, we met the certification two year in a row, but it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods,” explained Kramer about the increasing jail population predicament.
At the end of the day, Kramer felt that he came out of the class with tools to help serve the county better, in the form of knowledge and networking, but also with a sense of pride for this community and the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office.
“There was a lot of information to take in, but one thing that I really appreciated — especially listening to the challenges that the other sheriffs had — is that I am very thankful for the staff that we have here,” said Kramer. “There is a lot of issues that we don’t have because we have good teamwork, not only within our employees, but with other agencies and our county government.”
“Sheriff Kramer is a leader with vision for the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office,” said NSA Director of Professional Development Hilary Burgess. “It is an honor to have Sheriff Kramer join the more than 2,900 graduates of the NSI since 1973.”
* The NIC is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons. It is the primary federal source of technical assistance, training, and information services for state and local corrections. NIC provides a wide variety of services to the nation’s jails, most of which are the responsibility of sheriffs.
** The NSA is a non-profit professional association located in Alexandria, Virginia. NSA represents the nearly 3,100 elected sheriffs across the nation and has more than 20,000 members, including law enforcement professionals, state and federal government employees, concerned citizens, students, and others. Since 1940, NSA has served as an information clearinghouse for law enforcement professionals. NSA also provides management training for sheriffs and their personnel in court security, crime victim services, domestic violence, homeland security initiatives, jail operations, and traffic safety. Additionally, NSA administers the highly successful National Neighborhood Watch and Triad programs.