By DAVID NORTH
A brief lull between elections is a fine time to reflect on recent results. Particularly the fate of the Sheriff.
First the Los Alamos County Council arrogated most of the Sheriff’s duties to the police department. Then five councilors put on a full-court press to eliminate the office entirely, narrowly losing their political gamble.
The result? A Sheriff with only a single official duty and a council that likely wishes the whole thing would just go away.
The Sheriff was recently back in the news advocating changes to state law that would add stringent requirements to run for his office, including years of law enforcement experience.
Though not specifically a duty, working toward political and social changes that would improve life and law enforcement should certainly be expected from any Sheriff. Further, Sheriff Lucero’s view is not unreasonble. It suffers just one problem:
It fails to grasp the most important reason to have an elected Sheriff.
The key word is “elected.” The primary duty, and in fact probably the main reason voters decided to keep the office, is to represent the public in matters of law enforcement. In other words, like it or not, to be a politician.
To get the best Sheriff possible, especially in a small jurisdiction like ours, we need to choose from all available candidates, not a highly restricted pool. Especially because the best probably won’t have the required experience.
In that regard it would be much like insisting that any candidate for county council actually have extensive government experience. It could easily lead to cronyism and policy based on policy wonkyness. It might also lead to councilors who understand fiscal responsibility, but that’s a bit much to ask.
Sheriff Lucero may serve as an example of why those qualifications are not necessarily the best idea. He is recognized as an exemplary law enforcement officer and has ably carried out his duties, but appears to be a bit less effective at the political aspects of the job.
Citizens should have the broadest reasonable choice in their candidates. As we have recently seen, this can lead to less than optimal results, but mostly it works out okay.
As it stands any elected Sheriff must complete a certification. It may not be as extensive as some might like, but that’s another story for another day.