Delaware lawmakers trying to destroy sheriffs and strip them of legal power

Friday, February 08, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Delaware, sheriffs, legal power

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(NaturalNews) Historically, the local county sheriff has been considered to be the highest authority in the land, wielding more power than city, state and even federal authorities. In Delaware; however, that power is under attack, according to one of the state's three county authorities.

Sheriff Jeffrey Christopher says when he was elected to office in 2010, he believed he was supposed to represent his constituents as the highest-ranking law enforcement authority in the county. Instead, he has landed smack dab in the middle of a battle for the future of an American law enforcement precedent dating back to the founding of the nation, the American Free Press reported.

"It is one more example of federal and state governments ignoring the will of the people as well state laws. In the case of Delaware, the state's own constitution stipulates that the office of the sheriff is a constitutionally created position just like the secretary of state and the attorney general," the web publication reported. "Delaware's Constitution states: 'The sheriffs shall be conservators of the peace within the counties . . . in which they reside.'"

'The others won't stand up with me'

The Delaware initiative is being headed by state Attorney General Beau Biden, who is, perhaps not so ironically, the son of Vice President Joe Biden. The report said Biden's office has sent out mandates to county commissioners informing them their sheriffs no longer have powers of arrest.

Moreover, AFP said, the position of Biden's office has been seconded by State Solicitor L.W. Lewis, who said in an opinion released a year ago that neither state nor common law grants arrest powers to local county sheriffs.

In reality; however, the office of the sheriff was created in the American colonies well before the nation's official founding. In fact, AFP said, Delaware's first sheriff held office in 1669.

In a January 2012 interview, Christopher told AFP that the two prior sheriff administrations, dating back as far as 2000, both noticed reductions in funding and the erosion of their offices in general.

"Now my deputies and I have been relieved of all arrest powers and can't even make a traffic stop," he said. "Delaware has only three counties. . . The other two sheriffs...will not stand up with me" to prevent the elimination of county law enforcement, Christopher added.

The sheriff said the lack of authority vested in his office really came to light during an incident involving a county councilman, Vance Phillips. Christopher said he was struck in the eye and kicked by the councilman but could not arrest him.

Bumping off another uniquely American precedent

"I want to recreate the office in the way it was intended," Christopher, a Republican, told The Huffington Post. "A sheriff is supposed to be out there responding to the wishes of the people, just as the police do. Most people want to see more of a presence of law enforcement."

Delaware sheriffs traditionally conduct foreclosure sales and deliver court papers, local TV affiliate WBOC reported.

While Christopher says his bid to increase the power of his office is rooted in the state's constitution, opponents say he is misinterpreting the phrase. Nevertheless, HuffPo said Christopher has allowed his deputies to chase down felons and other criminals.

"He continues to say he's law enforcement, and he's not," says state House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, a Democrat, who introduced a bill last year specifically denying sheriffs the ability to arrest suspects and investigate crimes. "It's not a good position to be in, to have no authority over a person who carries a gun. It's scary."

Actually, what's truly "scary" is that yet another uniquely American precedent is being steamrollered by statist politicians who have empowered themselves to do so.


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