By KRISTIN HENDERSON
Los Alamos County Councilor
There are a couple arguments going around in support of maintaining the elected Office of Sheriff that I would like to address. I am in favor of a FOR vote to eliminate it.
The first is that the Sheriff is your last stand against corruption. The fact is, the Sheriff here has NO authority to investigate corruption, or any crime. The concept of needing the office to protect you is both illegal and a complete red herring.
Corruption can be investigated by the State Attorney General, the State Police, the FBI – there are any number of other entities, but not, here, by a Sheriff.
In Los Alamos, all law enforcement is given to the Police Department, including the legal authority to do any criminal investigation.
If that is confusing – it is for this one simple reason. Los Alamos is a city and a county – same citizens, same taxes, same geography – and under state law can provide services as either type of entity. But in no case did Los Alamos opt to duplicate services. (We do not have a County Fire Department and a City Fire Department, we do not have two Public Works Departments, etc.) In Los Alamos, only the Police Department has law enforcement authority. Not the Sheriff.
The fact the supporters try to claim this is your last hope against corruption, while legally wrong on its face and claiming to represent you – is disturbing. On the other hand, arguing to maintain essentially a vanity elected office, that poses risk and confusion to the general public, is pretty much a losing argument.
Second – the Posse Lodge and the Cowboy Breakfast. Neither, at this point, are related to the Office of Sheriff or to your vote about this. The group of volunteers who provide the breakfast do so to raise funds to maintain the building, which is on the State Register of Historical Properties and is, of course, used for any number of community events, parties, gatherings. However, there is no longer a horse-mounted search group, and has not been for decades. None of it is related to the elected office.
(The current Sheriff, I understand, is a member of the volunteer group to support the building, and has “deputized” a number of the pancake breakfast members. If you follow his current logic, the breakfast folks can now also provide law enforcement to you – although, and as he has been told, not legally.)
I encourage those who have not yet voted to please vote FOR eliminating this high-risk, unnecessary, vanity office.