Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sheriff power

I was made aware last year of the important role of the county sheriff. The point was made by Sheriff Dan Beck of Allen County Ohio. Like many law enforcement personnel, Beck was unaware that he had a problem with illegal aliens in his community until two years ago.

The point was made by two watershed events that took place in Allen County in 2005. The first was a search for an illegal alien who had fled into the county to hide from prosecution for the rape of an eight year old girl. Deputies were frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the perpetrator’s neighbors who also happened to be illegal aliens. They realized that the Sheriff's Office needed language skills and fraudulent document training in order to conduct such investigations.

The second event was a multiple fatality accident in Allen County. Four illegal aliens were killed in the accident. One victim was never identified. The county was left to pay over $100,000 in medical costs to treat one of the victims. The ACSO realized that they needed stronger enforcement of operator license, insurance, and auto registration laws. And they knew they had to do their part in educating local employers as well.

Beck went to work on the problem and has developed a successful enforcement program.

But the important point for the rest of us is that the county sheriff is an ELECTED official, the only ELECTED law enforcement agent in the nation.

Your local police chief is appointed by the mayor and city council. In some cases, they serve until the mayor fires them. In other cases, they serve until they resign or are convicted of a serious crime.

The chief officer of the state police/highway patrol is a political appointment by the governor.

But the county sheriff is elected by the people. He generally stands for election every four years. It means that he is not beholden to any other political leader. It also means he will be responsive to the citizens, especially if there is the possibility of a scandal. You ought to find out how your sheriff handles the problem of crime at the hands of illegal aliens.

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