Letter To The Editor: The Sheriff’s Position In Los Alamos County Charter

Los Alamos

To the Council of the County of Los Alamos:

As an active participant in the Charter Commission charged with writing the Los Alamos Charter, which was approved by the voters in 1968, it is worthwhile to relate some of the thinking that took place in writing the original document.

Prior to the writing of the Charter, an approved amendment to the New Mexico Constitution allowed the formation of Los Alamos as an “H Class” County with the intent to unify county and municipal functions. This created a unique task for a new organizational and management structure in New Mexico.

The Charter Commission’s basic philosophy was to do this within the existing State rules. All required positions were reviewed to maintain mandatory positions and, when possible, to combine functions to minimize overlap and duplication.

Of specific interest was the law enforcement and police activity. The Charter Commission discussed this thoroughly and overwhelmingly decided to combine the normal activities of the sheriff and police activities in one entity, the Los Alamos Police Department. We deliberately minimized the role of the sheriff and stipulated a secondary role since we could not legally abolish the position.

The legality of this decision was tested in 1976 and upheld by the Court. This established relationship has worked well since the adoption of this policy almost 50 years ago.

There is no real justification for changing or complicating a law enforcement structure that has worked well and efficiently all this time.


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