Efforts to have the Sussex County Sheriff abide by the same laws the other counties in the state follow have stalled for the second time, probably because this is an election year and the sponsors of the legislation that would handcuff the sheriff probably feared losing a vote or two.
A few years back Democrats in the House sponsored legislation to limit the sheriffs arrest authority but Republicans backed off supporting the bill. Democrats said because the Sussex Sheriff Jeff Christopher is a Republican, the Republicans could have a shot at him, no pun intended, the next time around.
So in this session Seaford Republican, House member, Dan Short and Milford Republican State Senator Gary Simpson collaborated with legislation that would make sure sheriffs in all three counties understood their limits. Nineteen House members, mostly Republicans, and six senators signed on to cosponsor the bill.
The sheriff rounded up his supporters, many attending a recent country council meeting, many of which chided the council for their non-support of the sheriff, and a bus load of pro-sheriff supporters went to Dover, and apparently the chief architect, Short got cold feet, saying a delay is needed to clarify “misinformation.”
Translated in political terms means the bill is dead for now. Read my column Thursday in the STAR; my story on lobbying reform, I say the same will happen to that bill.
I don’t really understand the problem; three opinions from the attorney general’s offices and orders from Sussex County Council, the Legislature had already made it clear that sheriffs should not have arrest powers.
Many moons ago, it had specified that police officers had to undergo training and be certified before they have arrest powers, and sheriffs were barred from the police academy. Those remarks were directed at Christopher’s predecessor, Robert Reed. Jeff served as Reed’s deputy.
Sussex Countians don’t like government telling them what to do, even though it’s for their own protection. If they had their way everyone should be allowed to walk around with a holster and gun and shoot anyone who looked at them the wrong way. The NRA should have their headquarters in Sussex.
Definitely a different group of people then I grew up with. If they could take over the government…the wild west would return; we’d have to circle our wagons not to protect ourselves from the Indians, but from the civilians.
I would say if the sheriff continues his ‘ride ’em cowboy’ style of enforcement, the county council has a law suit waiting to happen.