Sheriff’s Log: The Obligations of the Sheriff and the Obligations of Citizens

What should you expect from an elected Sheriff? And what should I, as your Sheriff, expect from you in the community?

Let’s start with my obligations to you. My obligations to you include lots of things, but three things in particular: attention to safety and security; attention to rights; and advocacy for resources and legal remedies so that I can provide safety and security while protecting rights.

I cannot guarantee your safety but I can make every effort to do so. First of all, this means being effective. It means using available resources effectively. It also means using those resources efficiently.

Effectiveness and efficiency. We do both of these things. Not perfectly. But, nonetheless we do them very well as reflected in our clearance rate for major violent crimes and the fact that we keep a safe, secure jail.

In addition, the cost of our services is very low: we deliver law enforcement services for less than half what most other agencies charge per year per citizen. Again, less than half the cost.

I also have an obligation to uphold rights while I am working to keep things safe and secure. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution as well as statue law.

To provide safety and security while upholding rights is difficult and expensive. Safety and security come with costs. Upholding rights comes with costs. Both are important. I regard both as my obligation.

Finally, I also have the obligation to be an advocate for you: to advocate for the means to provide for safety and security and rights. This means advocating for changes in law and resources so that I can deliver strong effective public safety services.

Under our form of government, even as your elected Sheriff, I do not control the size of my budget. That is the job of other branches of government.

It is my duty to clearly indicate what the Department needs to function effectively in order to successfully provide services to you. The duty of other branches is to evaluate the requests and then prioritize them.

I believe that I need to work in close co-operation with other branches of government, and to advocate for resources to provide needed public safety services. I owe you that advocacy. And, I intend to continue to advocate even when that message may be difficult for others to hear.

Those are my most important obligations as your Sheriff. But you have obligations too. The concept of being a citizen, being a member of a community, is not just about advantages and entitlements and things you get from government. The concept of citizenship and community involves citizens being willing to shoulder their own set of obligations. Citizenship is a two way street.

So, what are your most important obligations if you want to live in a safe and secure community? The first obligation is to be a law-abiding person.

The second obligation is to be informed: to know how your government works and to be aware of the issues facing it. You should know how much we spend – or how little – on services to you. You should know about our abilities and our and limitations and how well we perform. People want government to be accountable. And they should. But the first step toward government accountability is an informed citizenry.

The third obligation for citizens is to be clear about their expectations. And then to be willing to step forward and get involved by volunteering, by pushing for positive solutions and by advocating for community safety.

What is it that you expect from your Sheriff’s Department? What do you expect in terms of effective public safety services? And what is it that you are willing to do to support us in meeting those expectations?

I have obligations. You have obligations. We both have obligations. Citizenship is a two way street. And public safety is not a spectator sport.

We need to work together to meet our obligations. We need to reinforce one another if we are going to succeed. We need to assist each other if we want a safe community.


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