Lowndes County Sheriff Chris West completes leadership development training

Published 1:24 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Lowndes County Sheriff Chris West completed the 118th session of the National Sheriffs’ Institute (NSI) Leadership Development Course on Nov. 18.

West was nominated to join 26 other sheriffs from across America for the training, which focused on leadership within the Sheriff’s Office, the local criminal justice system, and their community.

“I want to be the best leader that I can be, the best supervisor I can be for our agency,” West said. “When training becomes available, I want to try and attend. It not only benefits me, but it makes our agency as well. We are attempting to stay abreast of training and resources that will make us better leaders and lay a foundation for leaders that may come behind us”

The week-long course, held in Quantico, Virginia, is a no-cost program provided by the National Institute of Corrections and the U.S. Department of Justice, in collaboration with the Major County Sheriffs of America.

The training is the only program of its kind specifically designed for sheriffs and the unique matters which impact the office of sheriff.

“The things I’ve learned help make our agency better and stronger,” West explained.

Topics included in the training included how to develop an executive team, building ethics within the organization, leading an agency through a crisis, models for leading through change, and many others West said he’s brought back with him and used within the department.

“There’s certain things we need to put into place,” West said. “We got a committee together, and they’ve hit the ground running.”

The tools West gains through training, help him lead the department and also help to share young officers just beginning their law enforcement careers.

“I’ve seen him be very approachable and pull junior officers in to talk one-on-one with them,” said Sergeant Nick Cognasi. “That way he can help guide them into the training and responsibilities that will assist them to achieve their personal career goals. He’s helping younger deputies and mentoring those just beginning in law enforcement.”

The NSI program was developed in the early 1970s in response to a need by sheriffs to meet the evolving demand of the office. 

Cognasi said its evident West is committed to leading and growing the department by example.

“Sheriff West is over patrol investigations, the jail, dispatch, all aspects of the department,” Cognasi said. “He’s on the board of numerous organizations at state and national levels, like the Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement Association. So, him mentoring young deputies, with all he has on his plate, it means a lot to them.”