But even seasoned law enforcement veterans have a lot to learn when they make the move from deputy or police officer to sheriff.
"I don't think some people understand the huge responsibility that's placed on the sheriff," said newly elected Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady, a former police officer, deputy and chief deputy with 20 years in law enforcement.
"Basically, the buck stops with the sheriff," Brady said. "It's the only law enforcement officer elected by the people. Everyone else is appointed."
Many newly elected sheriffs are surprised by the amount of work and responsibility that goes into collecting and keeping track of taxes. "You really don't realize that as a deputy," said Deweese, who has been with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department since 1996. "I knew it, but I didn't realize all the responsibilities of being the chief treasurer of the county."
"I was in law enforcement, so that's a new aspect of my duties," agreed recently elected Logan County Sheriff Sonya M. Dingess-Porter. Although she has been with the Logan Sheriff's Department for 19 years -- in every job from court bailiff, patrol deputy, task force member and chief deputy -- tax collection and budgeting are new to her.
While the classroom instruction and information at sheriffs school is useful to new officeholders, many new sheriffs also find the school helpful in getting to know each other.
"The classes are great," Raynes-Kidder said. "But just talking to folks about how they do things helps a lot too."
"It gives us a chance to communicate with each other and learn what resources we all have," she said. "If we have to work together, you have a face with a name."
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.