Dear Editor: Newton County has four elected offices that are legally classified as constitutional offices. These are the offices of the sheriff, tax commissioner, clerk of court and probate judge. All other offices are referred to as elected offices. These four constitutional offices were formulated in this manner so as to remain intact because their functions are absolutely necessary and fundamental for the safety, protection and operation of the county. These four offices are also referred to as "essential."
The office of the sheriff is by far the most important and in the past (and still in many areas) was and is referred to as the "high sheriff." When the western parts of our country were being settled, the first government official to arrive was usually a territorial marshal or a U.S. marshal. Note: they did not send a recreation director, a librarian or a clean and beautiful director. None of the funding for any of the above four constitutional offices should be cut by the Board of Commissioners. These are offices — not departments, authorities, boards or commissions, which are "non-essential" and should first be cut or eliminated.
The office of sheriff should never be cut. Any knowledgeable person should know there can be no "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" without safety and protection. An American citizen should never live in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.
A cutback in the sheriff’s office would cause harm to federal and state law enforcement agencies. When their duties bring them to Newton County, they could always count on any needed backup from our sheriff. In the past our sheriff’s office has sent deputies to neighboring counties to aid in critical situations. Any cutbacks would probably stop this assistance.
As a retired federal law enforcement officer, I have called on sheriff departments many times for backup and other assistance, and they have always responded. Also having performed charity services in the poverty areas of Newton County for over 50 years, I have probably called them hundreds of times and they have responded promptly on every call. Many of these calls were related to abused, neglected or abandoned children. Many were related to females who had been abused or held prisoner and many were related to drug houses in the county, and every time their response was prompt. I have also called many times in regard to traffic problems and severe vehicle wrecks. Any reduction in our sheriff department would translate into a reduction in our "quality of life." It would certainly be lowered.
Hopefully our commissioners will use "fact and logic" and not "emotions and political correctness" and leave the sheriff department in fact. Any elected body that cannot or will not, protect its citizens should not be allowed to govern.