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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
Supporting Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

Friday, November 14, 2008 – Reprinted from The Martinsville Bulletin – Editorial Page

You may have read in the newspaper recently that Steve Draper, sheriff of the city of Martinsville, was recently elected president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. I did not want this announcement to pass without telling the citizens of the area what an honor this is, not only for our local sheriff but also for our community. Draper will play an important role in shaping state policy.

Too often we think our corner of Virginia is overshadowed by the political influence of northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads. It is true that these highly populated areas have considerable representation in the General Assembly and in other statewide organizations.

Nevertheless, we have managed to offset some of that influence by having leaders from our area step onto the statewide stage. Gerald Baliles as governor and A.L. Philpott as speaker are two good examples.

With Draper’s election as president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, he continues a tradition of people from Martinsville, Henry County and Southside Virginia playing important statewide roles. The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association is the organization on the point of developing state policy respecting law enforcement. The General Assembly rarely enacts legislation concerning law enforcement without consulting the sheriffs’ association.

The fact that Draper was elected president of the association is a testament to his hard work and the respect he maintains among his peers. Sheriffs from all over Virginia vote for their president and they do not elect someone who is not extremely competent as a sheriff and as a spokesman for the association.

While I have offered my personal congratulations to Draper, you may also wish to acknowledge this achievement the next time you see him. I consider him a valuable partner as we deal with challenging economic times. He is a leader who puts law enforcement and the safety of the citizens of this commonwealth first. 

Del. Ward L. Armstrong, House minority leader
Henry County