Sunday, January 15, 2006

Horne promotes Elected Sheriff

Prosecuting Attorney Gerry Horne writes in the Tacoma News Tribune about the need for a stronger Sheriff''s position and a weaker Executive position.


At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with Gerry Horne re having an elected sheriff.

In the first place, an appointed sheriff is more insulated from politics and corruption. Sheriff Janovich and some underlings were convicted of taking money to look the other way. At about the same time, Auditor Dick Greco was extorting money from satellite auto licensing offices and Assessor Ken Johnston was requiring employees to contribute to his campaign fund. These acts of malfeasance by elected officials were a prime catalyst for passage of a new charter making the sheriff, at least, an appointed officer. An appointed sheriff is far less susceptible to bribery or election-related shenanigans.

On the other hand, an elected sheriff is more susceptible to pressure and manipulation by deputies and their union. for example, if deputies want a change in operations, or certain officers to be promoted, they can threaten to support an opposing candidate in the next election unless the sheriff does their bidding. One need only look to the sheriff's departments in Kitsap, Thurston, and Snohomish Counties, which were torn asunder by competing political factions.

Finally, an elected sheriff need not even be a law enforcement professional. Any lay person with an electable name in Pierce County -- e.g., Ladenburg -- could run and become sheriff. I think everyone would agree that the office should be reserved for professional cops.

Thus, in my opinion it would be a big mistake to switch to an elected sheriff. As things are, we're pretty well assured of professional leadership, accountable to an elected official (County Exec), but insulated from all kinds of potentially corrosive influences. Let's not try to fix something that isn't broken.

Mark Adams,Gig Harbor


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