Sheriff's Office History

The City of Salem Sheriff's Office is an accredited agency headed by Sheriff April M. Staton. She is the fourth sheriff to serve the citizens of Salem in the 50-year history of the city. Staton succeeds Ric Atkins who was the sheriff for a decade, Roger Surber, who led the department for 7 years, and Everette Obenschain Jr., who served in the position for 30 years.

In November 1969, Obenschain was elected by the voters of Salem to hold the office of City Sergeant. He took office in January 1970 and headed an office that consisted of himself and 4 deputies. The Code of Virginia was amended in July 1971 and the Office of City Sergeant was changed to the Office of the Sheriff.

Back then, the city held its General District Court proceedings in the council chambers of the old municipal building on College Avenue. The Sheriff's Office was located across Clay Street in an old two-story wooden building that no longer stands.

Today, the Salem Sheriff's Office consists of a dozen employees and its offices are located on Calhoun Street at the city's courthouse. Salem christened its current courts facility in 1978 and the Salem Sheriff's Office moved into the building that same year. The complex also is the home of the Salem Commonwealth's Attorney, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts and the Clerk's Office. Construction crews began an extensive remodeling project at this building in 2017 designed to enhance security and traffic flow at the front entrance of the structure.

Thanks in large part to Sheriff Staton, the Salem Sheriff's Office earned its latest statewide accreditation recognition in 2017. The office has achieved accreditation four times since 2005. Currently, only 96 law enforcement agencies out of the approximately 400 that are eligible for accreditation have achieved this distinction from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.

Past Sheriffs Office Patches

The patches pictured show the history of this office. The Patch on the top left was the first patch of this office and was used from 1971 till the 1980s. The patch on the top right was used during the 1980s and the patch in the middle was used during the 1990s. The patch currently being used by this office is shown on the Sheriff's Office homepage.