Letter To The Editor: Whither Sheriff’s Dept.?

By KHAL SPENCER
Los Alamos

The recent deluge of letters to the Los Alamos Daily Post regarding the future of the Sheriff’s Dept is conflating two issues: the department’s desire to engage in scope creep vs. carrying out its traditional duties in Los Alamos County vs. Council’s desire to eliminate the office, and the far right politics being espoused in some letters. Let’s separate the two.

The question of eliminating the sheriff, i.e., whether the traditional duties of the Los Alamos Sheriff as described in our county’s governance documents can be more cost effectively and safely carried out by other county staff should be analyzed. The councilors who are suggesting this change in governance should post the analysis here in the Daily Post. If the duties can be folded into the LAPD more cost-effectively, this should be made clear. Separately, the idea of scope creep worries me. One, do the deputies have the same level of police training as our PD and two, do we need two police agencies in one jurisdiction? We don’t have separate county vs city jurisdictions such as is the case in Santa Fe or Albuquerque.

The “Constitutional Sheriff” and related rhetoric is polarizing the discussion. Certainly the difference in the office of police chief vs. sheriff is clear–one is appointed by the county and one is directly elected by the public. The recent lawsuit fiasco where a police chief was given the bum’s rush by the County Administration for still to be fully disclosed reasons still worries me. But separately, if the Sheriff office’s current brand of politics is found distasteful by the community, the remedy is to vote out the incumbents, not eliminate the office.

If the community agrees with the philosophy put forth in letters such as one written by Mr. Horne, we should re-elect the incumbent. I find it interesting that we are told we should be supporting an ideology that is wary of Big Government when if not for Big Government and the military-industrial complex, there would be little up here on the hill but a few ranchers, a small boy’s school, and some cattle. But whatever…that’s a decision to be made at the ballot box, not in Tirades to the Editor.

At any rate, it really sounds like we should have a pair of referendums on our hands. One for the office, and one for the office holder. May we live in interesting times.

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