Brief History

From Antiquity to Today

We know from the King James Bible that individuals with sheriff-like powers have been around for thousands of years. The word sheriff is derived from shire-reeve. In simple terms, shires were a group or community of 100 families, while reeves were custodians or guardians. The sheriff's power came from the king.

In America, sheriffs transitioned to the new world when Virginia was divided into eight shires or counties. The position of sheriff was an administrative position of the shire form of government. The first sheriff was William Stone in Accomack County in 1634. Northhampton County elected William Waters as the first elected sheriff in America. The sheriff is the oldest law enforcement positions in the United States.

The Modern Sheriff

The powers and duties of the sheriff have changed considerably since King Richard and the Sheriff of Nottingham. The modern Virginia sheriff can best be described as a constitutional officer.

Norton Sheriff's Office

Compared with other Virginia sheriff offices, the City of Norton Sheriff's office is very young. Norton Sheriff's office was established in 1974 after the code of Virginia was changed. This change abolished the city sergeant position in cities that had both a city sergeant and a sheriff. This change also allowed those cities with only a city sergeant to elect a sheriff.

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