Council To Consider Sending Ordinance Amendment To Electorate To Abolish Office Of Sheriff In Los Alamos

Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero

Staff Report

The Los Alamos County Council is scheduled to hear Ordinance No. 665, which proposes amendments, to be submitted to voters for adoption or rejection at the Nov. 8, 2016 General Election. The amendments would consolidate all remaining powers and duties of the Office of the Sheriff to the Los Alamos Police Department and abolish the sheriff as an elective office.

This proposed action arises out of discussion during the recent budget hearings at which Sheriff Marco Lucero pointed out that service of process has become a riskier activity than has been traditionally thought. The County charter places law enforcement duties within the County in the police department. Because the County has no unincorporated area, there is not a need for two law enforcement agencies in the County. However, recognizing that the world and society have changed in ways that increase exposure to violence, it may no longer make sense to have a sheriff’s office with such limited functions.

This proposed ordinance would place a ballot question before the voters in November that would abolish the Office of Sheriff in Los Alamos County at the end of the current term in 2018. The Constitutional Amendment that allowed Los Alamos County to incorporate specifically gave the County the authority to determine what elective offices it would maintain.

As an alternative motion, Council could decline to pass the ordinance and the voters would not have the opportunity to decide the Charter question in November.

The sheriff’s budget of $88,000 for FY-17 would be unnecessary after 2018 if the Charter amendment is adopted. However, until the Los Alamos Police Department can develop a track record of service of process, it is unknown if that department would need an increase to assimilate the sheriff duties.