Special to the Star Banner: Published in The Ocala Star Banner Link
Recently, The Star-Banner published a guest column from a local retired professor regarding the historical background of the modern-day sheriff. At the end of this column, it was suggested that we jettison the office of the sheriff.
This is an easy statement to make if we lack education as to the importance of the sheriff. Please allow me to highlight the overwhelming importance of the sheriff through the lens of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, an education and training organization well versed in the duties of the sheriff.
The sheriff has a pedigree so long it is debatable as to the exact date the office was founded in England. But what we do know for a fact is that the sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer within the confines of the county. This is very important, considering that most all peace officers are “sworn officers,” who take oaths to support the state and U.S. Constitutions. This oath is sworn by the sheriff upon being constitutionally elected to office.
In America, we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights the people establish local, county, state and federal government. The sheriff is the last line of defense in protecting the liberties of the people, including against the federal government.
In addition to upholding the law, the sheriff is also charged with upholding the supreme law, the Constitution. The law enforcement powers held by the sheriff supersede those of any agent, officer or authority from any level of government when in the jurisdiction of the county. Here are some examples of where sheriffs thwarted unconstitutional government intrusions.
In 1994, Graham County, Arizona: Federal officers informed the sheriffs of the state that they would be required to enforce the so-called “Brady Handgun Bill” and run background checks at their expense under the law. Sheriff Richard Mack and six other sheriffs from across the country challenged the constitutionality of the Brady Bill and, ultimately, fought it all the way to the Supreme Court, where they won a monumental decision for freedom. Decisions from Sheriff Mack’s lawsuit against the Clinton administration are now being used to block Obamacare.
In 2013, Liberty County, Florida: Sheriff Nick Finch was arrested and booked into his own jail for protecting one of his citizens from unconstitutional gun laws. Sheriff Finch nullified the arrest of this law-abiding citizen who had the audacity of legally carrying a gun in his pocket. Sheriff Finch upheld his oath to the Constitution, and for doing so the state arrested the sheriff and re-arrested the citizen. The state tried to get Sheriff Finch to plea down, but he refused and eventually was acquitted by a jury, reinstated as sheriff with full back pay.
In 2013, El Dorado County, California: Sheriff John D’Agostini had received numerous complaints from citizens regarding the abusive behavior of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement. The sheriff’s response? He stripped the federal agents of their power to enforce state law in his county.
These are just three out of thousands of examples that further establish the powers of the sheriff.
The sheriff is the one who draws the line in the sand; stand down to Goliath or stand up and be a David. Now more than ever in America it is essential for the people to choose their sheriff wisely. Ask him or her, “Are you a David,” will you stand up to Goliath? Is your local candidate or sheriff a constitutional sheriff? Do they support the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA.ORG)? Many of the sheriffs who you see standing up across the country belong to the C.S.P.O.A.
Furthermore, government rule dates back to the time of Rome. Does that mean we should abolish government and retire it to the history books? If we are upset about bad acts of some sheriffs or deputies, this further reinforces the need for organizations like the C.S.P.O.A.
As far as putting the reeve of the shire back where they belong in the history books, no thanks. We prefer the checks and balances of our founders.
— Kevin Blake is the Florida State Director for the CSPOA and syndicated radio talk show host who lives in Ocala.