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Elected Vs. Appointed

Elected Vs. Appointed

Some of us work for chiefs, while some work for sheriffs. There are certainly other titles our bosses may go by, but for the sake of ease I’ll refer to the two main types of law enforcement leaders rather generically. The biggest difference between a chief and a sheriff is how they got their title. Chiefs are appointed by a government entity such as the mayor, city manager, etc. Sheriffs on the other hand are elected — appointed by the voters of their counties. While it may not seem like much of a difference, in actuality it’s a huge difference.

A chief is a department head, just like the guy in charge of say, the Water Department. While each department head may (should) have a breadth of knowledge of how to run their department, it’s the city officials who have the ultimate say in what each department does. And they have this say with chiefs in the form of threat of termination/replacement should the chief come out against the city’s political leanings. Can you see the puppet strings? And while city government officials are elected, they hold their office based upon a wide variety of subjects (a platform) important to the voters, not just the single notion of laws and safety from the criminal element.

On the opposite side of the coin is the Office of Sheriff: the only law enforcement leader actually elected by the voters of the county. The sheriff answers directly to the people who put him in office — it’s also why it’s called a Sheriff’s Office and not a Sheriff’s Department. And why do people vote for a particular sheriff? Because his only job is to worry about things directly related to law and order; it’s an over-simplified statement, but you get the point.

Let’s look at the ways chiefs and sheriffs are handling the notion of wide-sweeping gun bans. Many chiefs, particularly big-city chiefs, are quick to jump on the gun-grab bandwagon because their superiors take this position. New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles and even my former home, San Diego, are all places with high gun-crime rates despite extremely restrictive gun laws — and they’re clamoring to pass even more laws to disarm the citizens. Where these mayors go, you’re sure to see a chief tailgating, if you know what I mean.

Chief William Landsdowne, the department head of my former agency, San Diego PD, has gone on record to say he fully supports the Obama/Feinstein gun grab. According to an interview with San Diego TV station KPBS, Lands-downe said: “[But] I think it’s going to eventually make the country safer and certainly safer for my officers that have to respond to these calls.” He even went so far as to say it may take a generation, but guns will eventually be taken off the streets through new laws. Excuse me? How obtuse can one man be?
Then you have the elected side of law enforcement — the sheriffs — looking upon the idea of making criminals out of law-abiding citizens as a deal breaker. There are a growing number of sheriffs across the US who’ve stepped up to the plate and let the politicians, particularly the blustering Washington, DC crowd, know they have no intention of supporting laws or executive orders infringing on the constitutional rights of responsible citizens. You don’t see these sheriffs tailgating anybody, no puppet masters or ventriloquists telling them what to say or think.

Sheriffs are putting the president and the others on notice. Charles Heiss, Sheriff of Johnson County, Missouri urges fellow Sheriffs throughout the US to “rise to the defense and aid of all Americans, should the federal government attempt to enact any legislation or executive order that impedes, erodes or otherwise diminishes their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.” It’s a very black-and-white issue for many of these sheriffs; no grey or blurry interpretation of what kind of guns are permissible, how many rounds it can hold or whether it’s necessary for hunting.

This debate reminds me of the anti-abortion protests occurring in the early 1990s. Protestors would attempt to block access and otherwise disrupt business at clinics and we’d be called in to declare their presence an unlawful assembly. Ultimately, we’d have to remove the passively resisting die-hards. I distinctly remember officers were allowed to opt-out of going to these events if they had a religious or moral objection to abortions. There were no repercussions against officers who didn’t participate, but given the circumstances today with the war on the 2nd Amendment, I wonder if police chiefs would be so considerate? Is this one of those cases where politicians play the “well, morals are situationally dependent” cards?

Where do you stand on this issue? American COP — and I — firmly stand behind the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment in particular. Do you recall the oath you took when you became an officer/deputy? No matter the exact wording, we’ve all sworn to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States — in its entirety. There’s also usually something in the oath about having the courage to hold ourselves accountable for our actions — having the strength to withstand unethical pressure, fear or danger and answering to the people we serve. I welcome your comments.
By Suzi Huntington

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  1. Chiefs of Police are elected as well. In the state of Louisiana, it is more common to find a chief that is elected by a village/town/city than to find one that is appointed. As for being a puppet on a string, being an appointed chief is by no means what you are saying. Once again, the writer of this article has failed to do enough research before pecking away at the keys.

  2. Suzy,
    Great editorial, just what is happening here in Colorado between our elected Sheriffs and the socialistic controlling legislators in the Colorado senate and house. I will share it.

  3. Suzi, you may be talking about some appointed chiefs, but certainly not all. I am the chief in Danville, Indiana, and I have told anyone and everyone that wants to know that the Danville Metropolitan Police Department will not be a part of taking firearms from law abiding citizens. Ater 27+ years with the State Police and 6+ years as chief here, I will not and will not allow my department to be a part of this kind of scheme. THus far, my town council and police commissioners support me; I don’t expect that to change. But if it does, I won’t. Please don’t lump all chiefs together as we don’t all reporters.

    • Lance Rutallie says:

      You can take what Keith says to the bank as I know him personally, have worked the street with him when I was a deputy in a neighboring county, and support his ethics and commitment to public service. He right when he say one size does not fit all and that generalities do a disservice to some hard-working law enforcement professionals.

      Keep up the good work Keith!!!!

    • One is not a “law abiding citizen” if legislation, passed by duly elected legislators and signed into law by the proper executive authority, is not abided by said citizen. The statement “taking guns from law abiding citizens” stipulates that no law has been broken. If the law exists, and the citizen doesn’t comply, he isn’t law abiding. Whether you agree with the law or not. It isn’t a law enforcement officer’s job to decide which laws he likes. Until or unless a particular law is changed by the legislative branch or overturned through the appeals process of the US Constitution, it’s a law and when broken by a citizen that citizen is no longer law abiding.

  4. Chris Blow says:

    Good artical .
    I think you should relax Jim ,If you are not going against the oath we took to the Constitution ,then she was not talking about you… I took her comments as refering to big city ,anti- gun mayors and the chiefs they apoint ( And control !)

  5. Carol Cassady says:

    8/17/17: My Question? When did most/all of our major metropolitan cities lose CITIZEN’s RIGHT TO ELECT OUR POLICE CHIEFS? We pay their salaries! Most of these cities are/have been controlled by Democrats!

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