The Town of Salem incorporated to an independent city status in 1968. With this change in status, the new city was required to have a full slate of Constitutional Officers as outlined in the Virginia Constitution and Code of Virginia. The Judges of the 23rd Circuit Court appointed the first set of Constitutional Officers for the newly formed city and required the city to hold open public elections for these positions in November 1969.
The Code of Virginia in 1968 listed the position of Sheriff under the title of "City Sergeant". The Judges of the 23rd Circuit Court appointed Mr. Everett Frye as the first City Sergeant of Salem. Mr. Frye was the Chief Deputy Sheriff of Roanoke County prior to this appointment in March 1968. In November 1969, Mr. Everette B. Obenshain Jr. was duly elected by the voters of Salem to hold the Office of City Sergeant.
City Sergeant Obenshain took office in January 1970. The office consisted of the City Sergeant and four deputies at that time. The City held its General District Court proceedings in the City Council Chambers of the old municipal building on College Ave. The City Sergeants' Office was located across Clay Street in the second floor of an old two-story wooden dorm building purchased from Roanoke College. This building was torn down in the late 1970's to expand the parking lot and place the brick entrance to Roanoke College.
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 1980's. The patch on the top right was used during the 1980's and the patch in the middle was used during the 1990's. The patch currently being used by this office is shown on the right side of this page.
The Code of Virginia was amended in July 1971 and the Office of City Sergeant was changed to the Office of the Sheriff.
The City of Salem opened its new Courts Facility on Calhoun Street in 1978. The Salem Sheriff's Office moved into this new building upon it's opening and has been there ever since.
Sheriff Everette B. Obenshain Jr. retired on September 1, 2000, after 30 years of service.
The Judges of the 23rd Circuit Court appointed Roger L. Surber to fill the un-expired term left by Sheriff Obenshain. Sheriff Surber had served as Chief Deputy of the Salem Sheriff's Office for 14 years prior to his appointment as Sheriff.
Sheriff Surber was duly elected by the citizens of Salem on November 6, 2001, to a four year term, beginning January 1, 2002.
During Sheriff Surber's first term, the office continued to work on becoming an accredited agency. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Sheriff's Office employees the mission was accomplished in May 2005.
In October 2005 the Sheriff's Office upgraded the building security by beginning the use of Smith's Detection x-ray equipment along with walk through metal detection and hand held scanners.
Sheriff Surber was elected to a new four year term on November, 8, 2005 beginning on January 1, 2006.
Sheriff Eric A. Atkins took the official oath of office December 19, 2007.
On May 6, 2008, a special election was held and Eric Atkins was formally elected as Sheriff of the City of Salem.
Sheriff Atkins was also re-elected in the General Elections of November 2009 and November 2013.