Elections for the ISA officers take place every year during the summer conference. All 92 sheriffs in the state are eligible to run for offices.
Heaton was elected as president in July 2011 for a one-year term.
"I was honored that the other sheriffs throughout the state had faith in me," he said. "I started as treasurer in 2008-09. In 2010, I was elected to second vice president, and in 2011 I was first vice president."
The president of the ISA appoints board members to different committees, including scholarship committees, budget committees, training committees and youth camp committees. The ISA also has a legislative committee, which deals with bills that will affect law enforcement and citizens.
"There are a lot more responsibilities as president," Heaton said. "I have to help organize the state conference, make choices and find speakers. Getting everything scheduled is the hardest part. I'm trying to juggle my work here in the county and my responsibilities with the Indiana Sheriff's Association. I also have kids, and I need to make time for family."
The ISA's purpose is to protect the office of the sheriff.
"The purpose is to look at what is going on and make it better for the citizens, enhance public safety and support our communities. We watch these bills to make sure they benefit law enforcement and citizens as a whole. The ISA also deals with the sex offender registry. The sheriff's departments are responsible for keeping that list updated."
The association, which began in 1930, is also a support system for the 92 county sheriffs in Indiana.
"It's a way to network and find resources," Heaton said.
The first Clay County sheriff to become the ISA president was Sheriff William Downing in 1959.