May 27, 2005
Sheriff responds to recent letters
To the editor:
I want to take this time to thank all of my dedicated critics for all of the time, energy, and attention they devote to me. I really enjoy reading their letters to the editor and without them my efforts to reform law-enforcement would be boring and without humor. The late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall once said that he would rather have people talking about him than ignoring him. I sincerely hope to keep all of these individuals around. They help me stay motivated and focused to achieve my goals and keep my issues alive free of charge. There is nothing wrong with people voicing their opinions, even if they are based on uninformed
emotions. I enjoy interacting with my critics so that I can address their issues. I will always respond to them and set the record straight so the public can hear the truth.
To Mrs. Tynes from Sharpsburg, I enjoyed your letter, but it raises a few questions I want you to ask yourself. You referred to my letter as being childish, did you consider your letter childish, and if not why? When you stated that I should stop butting heads with everyone, did you ever consider that they might be butting heads with me? When you said I should get out there and enforce the law, did you not read in my letter that I have created two units that are doing just that and have made over 150 arrests? When you stated that I should not respond back to your letter because you have heard enough, did you forget about freedom of speech? I
do want to thank you for the Napoleon comment because even though he had his faults, he was a great leader. Replicas of his ceremonial sword and dagger were given to me as a gift by a dear friend and are in a place of honor in my office. Again no insult is intended to you for expressing yourself, and I thank you for your personal interest.
To Ms. Hargis of Morrow, I enjoyed your letter as well, however with all due respect, I must remind you that no one is capable of embarrassing you but yourself.
It was also good to hear from my dear friend Mr. Silbernagel. He and I have always enjoyed debating each other in the past and it is good to know he is still around for another one. Mr. Silbernagel is a logical man and, as he stated, consolidation of the sheriff's office and county police would save money and increase efficiency. However, he was off on one point. When he researches this he will see that his only error is suggesting that the consolidation should come under the county police. Of course he will never
admit his error but that is the joy of our relationship.
Here is why he is wrong: Every county has to have a sheriff's Office by law, but there is nowhere in the law where it says there has to be a county police. In Georgia there are only 13 out of 159 counties that have a county police department. There used to be 19, but the trend is to consolidate county police departments under the sheriff's office. Why? This is because a county police force is created by commissioners who can't create an ordinance or resolution that has jurisdiction inside a city or outside of the county. Therefore, a county police force that is created by an ordinance or resolution has no jurisdictions inside cities or outside of
the county. Criminals have no jurisdictional limitations, and neither should the law-enforcement agency that pursues them. The sheriff's office, because it receives its authority from the constitution, has statewide jurisdiction, making it a better crime-fighting component. The sheriff's office also has the authority to bring back fugitives from other states, something that county police cannot do. There are now less than 100 county police departments left in our nation. They are rapidly, and rightfully so, becoming a thing of the past.
The supervision of the police by an elected panel of commissioners is a dangerous thing as we have seen in the past, because it means that agency fears investigating the commissioners if they commit questionable acts. We saw this when the county police backed off investigating the inspection scandal involving former and sitting commissioners a couple of years ago.
Because the sheriff is elected by the people, he can look into matters and not feel pressured to back off because he is not an employee of the commissioners like the county police. If you look at the history of county
police departments, you will find they were mainly created to generate revenue for the commissioners through traffic citations. That is why counties who have them are notorious for speed traps and our county has had this reputation for as long as I can remember. The county commissioners cannot demand the sheriff to write a certain amount of tickets or have a traffic unit. Most sheriffs let the State Patrol handle traffic while they concentrate on fighting crime.
One last thought: when we talk about duplication of services, it is important to understand that the sheriff's office cannot duplicate the county police; the county police can only duplicate the work of the sheriff. The courts have ruled that the sheriff's office existed long before the county police; therefore, it is the county police that duplicate the sheriff's office, not the sheriff's office that duplicates the County Police. The sheriff's office is as old as the country itself and predates any form of law-enforcement. The sheriff's office was the best solution tocombat crime in the old west and still remains the best solution to combat crime today!
Sheriff Victor Hill