Association Connect

Leadership in a Crisis

By Craig Lauer | April 19, 2020

By Sheriff Daron Hall, 2019–2020 National Sheriffs’ Association President

This article first appeared in the 2020 May/June issue of Sheriff & Deputy magazine.

Our Nashville community—devastated by the March 3 tornado—hadn’t yet caught its breath before the fear and impact of the coronavirus hit. Balancing multiple crisis situations at the same time, however, is what sheriffs do on an almost daily basis. Our job is to handle what’s in front of us, look ahead at what may come, and humanize the circumstances so we can bring reassurance to our neighbors, employees, and inmate populations.

Sheriffs are in a unique position: We make decisions that impact many people and sometimes, those decisions aren’t very popular—but they’re the right thing to do. During the current national public health emergency, Nashville-Davidson County is releasing qualifying inmates early, granting furloughs for the first time in decades, and suspending service of most civil warrants. We are facing staff shortages while ensuring that essential operations continue. 

It is imperative for sheriffs to continue to work closely with federal agencies to ensure that our longstanding partnerships can help heighten public safety—especially now, as every sheriff and deputy in the nation has assumed the role of first responder to a global health crisis. 

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as NSA president, and I’m proud to have met so many of you along the way. Over the past year, I have strived to make decisions that separate sheriffs from any particular political party and organize the association’s leadership in a way that brought thoughtful and impactful decision-making to its Management Subcommittee, Executive Committee, and Board of Directors.

Although I will soon end my term as your NSA president in unprecedented times, I will leave you in the capable hands of Dane County (Wisconsin) Sheriff Dave Mahoney. He and I have worked closely over the past few months to ensure a smooth transition, and I wish him a safe and productive tenure. 

As county sheriffs, we bring leadership and authority to our offices and communities. In these times of incredible crisis, let’s serve them with integrity and decisiveness. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next-best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” 

Godspeed. 

Sheriff Daron Hall

Davidson County (Tennessee) Sheriff’s Office

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