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Sheriff or Cheif of Police?

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  • Sheriff or Cheif of Police?

    Well I had an interesting debate with someone about this. On the county level as the primary law enforcement agency would you prefer a sheriffs department or a county police department? Assume that both are equally equipped and staffed with the same tactics etc.

    I said I preferred a sheriffs department because then as a citizen of said county I get to participate in the selection process for the chief law enforcement officer in the county (in case some of you don't know "THE" Sheirff of a county is elected.

    However the other side of the argument was that they sheriff becomes a politician more than an appointed chief would and politicians have no place in law enforcement. It was an interesting parry to my point.

    Any opinions?

  • #2
    Every level of law enforcement is considered political in one way or another. And in alot of small counties you have no idea who these folks are who are running.They pay for it out of their pocket and all you get are cheesy signs on the side of the road. In these cases voters pick a name they think they recognize. They dont know why they know this name. Could it have been the 400 signs they passed on the way to the poll?
    "That boys cheese dun slid off his cracker!"

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    • #3
      Well I wil grant you that, however thats the same flaw with EVERY election. It doesnt change the fact that people who are interested and DO do their homework can't make an educated decision

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      • #4
        Sheriff or Chief?

        Frankly, it doesn't matter whether they are elected or appointed:
        Anyone above the rank of Lieutenant is a POLITICIAN.

        A Politician will not offend anyone who could halt his/her climb on the career ladder.

        Ask yourself: Is it easier to offend, tick-off:
        A. A member of the public or "Special Interest Group" ( Think Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Minority groups)
        OR
        B. a subordinate who has no recourse to your decisions.
        (and if you can claim you diligently adhered to Policy when asked about it)

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        • #5
          A chief of police is appointed by whichever governing body he serves.... a city council, a county board of superintendents, etc. Since they are appointed they can be removed at any time and replaced which can lead to a weak police chief (can you say Lansdowne in SDPD) who will not stand ground on anything if it is contrary to who appointed them.

          A Sheriff is elected by the people and is a political position, but they are there until the next election. They do not have to worry as much about kissing you know what on a day to day basis.

          I think both have their pros and cons, but in the bigger picture I think an elected Sheriff should be the primary law enforcement officer in the county.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Fuzz
            I think both have their pros and cons, but in the bigger picture I think an elected Sheriff should be the primary law enforcement officer in the county.
            In Maryland where the poster is from the Sheriff IS the chief law enforcement officer for the county. Technically the Sheriff in the state of Maryland can not be arrested except by the Coroner, which the state of Maryland no longer has. They havent yet changed the State Constitution to reflect that. But I doubt that any Sheriff would try to use it as an out.

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            • #7
              I'll echo what Fuzz said. It is nice to work for an elected sheriff, because he doesn't have to kiss butt to special interests. He works for the community at large, and does not answer to a city council or county board of supervisors. He can be responsive to special requests, but if he doesn't go along with what some individual politician wants, it won't cost him his job.

              In California, a sheriff has no special protection against arrest. If he commits a crime, anyone could arrest him. And most sheriffs are also the coroner. Over the years, most counties have consolidated duties for efficiency.
              Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

              I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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              • #8
                Myself I would prefer seeing the poition of Chief heading up a department. As you mentioned a county Sheriff is an elected official where a Chief is a Civil Service position. I favor the Chiefs position because there is less chance of "political games" or "favors" being done.

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                • #9
                  don't think a chief of police is civil service,
                  he falls under command / management/ excempt positions,
                  or political appointee who can be fired at will by the city manager and
                  or city mayor
                  " if you talk in your sleep, don't mention my name....
                  " if you walk in your sleep, forget where you came....

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Stare
                    In Maryland where the poster is from the Sheriff IS the chief law enforcement officer for the county. Technically the Sheriff in the state of Maryland can not be arrested except by the Coroner, which the state of Maryland no longer has. They havent yet changed the State Constitution to reflect that. But I doubt that any Sheriff would try to use it as an out.
                    The original poster asked something along the lines of if the chief law enforcement official should be an elected sheriff or a chief of police. I was just agreeing that I think it should be an elected Sheriff instead of an appointed chief. In California the Sheriff is the chief LEO in each county, but as stated has no special immunities from arrest.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ftlaudcop
                      don't think a chief of police is civil service,
                      he falls under command / management/ excempt positions,
                      or political appointee who can be fired at will by the city manager and
                      or city mayor
                      There may be clauses built into a Chiefs contract for compensation, but he is an at-will employee serving at the will of the city council/city manager/mayor (depending on what type of city charter there is).

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                      • #12

                        It can be a double-edged sword, in my opinion.

                        A sheriff is elected by the voters of his/her county and must run every four years (in VA, anyhow). An appointed police chief serves at the will of a county board of supervisors or a city/town council (or a mayor, depending upon the charter). Both have advantages and disadvantages.

                        Here in VA, a sheriff has near absolute authority and all his deputies serve "at will" for him - and he could dismiss anyone at anytime for nearly any reason (save for race, religion, etc.). A chief of police probably has to go through a bit more hoops to get rid of someone, though.

                        As a private citizen, I often think that an elected sheriff is best because he is beholden to the voters of his county (NOTE: Many sheriff's offices in Virginia do not do law enforcement duties because they have a police department for that.); rather than being removed from his constitutents like a politically-appointed chief.

                        If you are working in law enforcement and desire a long career, it might be wise to be a police officer rather than a deputy (depending upon the agency, of course). If you work for a PD, you may have a modicum of protection and possibly may have access to a grievance procedure (some agenices).

                        It is rare, but does happen, when a new sheriff is elected and "cleans house" by firing all but his buddies. Cronyism is not as bad as it used to be, but it still rears its head from time to time. The larger the sheriff's office, the less likely this is to happen, though.


                        A few years back, there were some problems with home invasions and the appointed police chief warned citizens "not to take matters into their own hands or resist" -- while a sheriff of a nearby rural county stated that "people have a right to be safe in their own homes and are legally justified to use lethal force to protect the lives of themselves and their loved ones."

                        Two different attitudes for two different reasons!
                        Last edited by VA Dutch; 04-03-2007, 07:47 PM.

                        The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

                        The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

                        ------------------------------------------------

                        "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

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                        • #13
                          Sheriff or Chief of Police

                          In Alabama, the Sheriff is an elected official. His term of office is for four years, and he has unlimited tenure. That means he can run for office every four years, and can remain in office as long as he keeps getting re-elected. The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of his county. As long as a popular Sheriff keeps his nose clean, he can be a very difficult official to remove from office, as in losing an election. That happens, but it's pretty rare.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by P.I.Davis
                            .

                            However the other side of the argument was that they sheriff becomes a politician more than an appointed chief would and politicians have no place in law enforcement.
                            The Sheriff is an elected position but that does not mean he has no place in law enforcement. I am sure there are a considerable amount of elected law enforcement who have no business being on the job but on the flip side there are also a considerable amount of Sheriff's who are exceptional at the job.

                            My Sheriff happens to be one who is exceptional at what he does and first and foremost he is a Sheriff not a politician. He started as a patrol deputy on this department and moved his way up to investigations and became the Chief Investigator on the department before he became the Sheriff.

                            As I type I can also think of a number of appointed chiefs I know who have no business being in the job. The are incompetent and have no business in law enforcement.
                            Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ftlaudcop
                              don't think a chief of police is civil service,
                              he falls under command / management/ excempt positions,
                              or political appointee who can be fired at will by the city manager and
                              or city mayor
                              Right on the money. Anyone who believes a chief of police is not a political position is misinformed.
                              Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

                              Comment

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