Letter To The Editor: Council Should Be Concerned About SB 203 And SJR 16

By GEORGE CHANDLER
Los Alamos

Friends on the council: I don’t know if you’ve been following this but I think you should be concerned. I’ve attached the new bill SB 203 given a do pass by the Senate Public Affairs Committee, and SJR 16 proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the term limits for Sheriffs.

SB203 would require every candidate for Sheriff to have a law enforcement certification before running for office, and to be a resident for a year prior to running for office.  Currently a newly elected Sheriff can get the training he/she needs after being elected. 

Nobody can get training from the Law Enforcement Academy without being associated with a law enforcement agency, thus only the current Sheriff or some just-retired LAPD officer could qualify. This would affect Los Alamos profoundly and combined with SJR 16, which would eliminate term limits for Sheriffs, would meant that our current Sheriff would be in a strong position to lock up the office of sheriff for the foreseeable future. Not surprisingly, guess who is a leading spokesman for the Association of Sheriffs promoting these bills – the very same Sheriff of Los Alamos County.

There is no need for law enforcement certification for the Los Alamos Sheriff because he/she has no law enforcement authority. This situation was created by the Charter of 1968 when New Mexico statutes required every county to have a Sheriff (dating from territorial days). That requirement was eliminated in 1993. Because the city and the county of Los Alamos have the same boundary, there is no need for two law enforcement agencies, which would be an obvious duplication and waste of resources.

I suggest a concerted lobbying campaign by the council to either defeat the bill altogether or at the least get an exception for H-Class Counties.

I also suggest that we ASAP get a Charter amendment to eliminate the Office of Sheriff once and for all to stop this foolishness.

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