Sheriff responds to previous letter
August 19, 2021
To The Eagle:
I go around the county reading safety books to nursery school children and daycares. The kids are given plastic Junior Deputy Badges. Before I pin them over their hearts, I have them raise their hands and take a basic oath that is appropriate for their age, just as every police officer does before they are given that enormous responsibility to protect and serve the people. I have them repeat after me: “I promise to be a good citizen. I promise to obey the laws. I promise to be a good neighbor.” As a police officer of 31 years, I have tried to live up to those basic tenets of civic duty, and I find myself glum at times because of misinformed, mean-spirited people. Bottom line: An overwhelming majority of police officers put their lives on the line, missing family holidays, birthdays, or witnessing the birth of their children to serve others. I saw a resident flying an ACAB flag (see google) for all the world to see. It is mean-spirited. And it is neither neighborly nor being good to others.
In response to a letter writer last week in the paper that said police are just crying about new changes in the law, the fact is these changes are serious and negatively affect everyone. They need to be revised. Sheriffs, chiefs, and all officers around the state are very concerned about the ramifications from these changes. In spite of them, the Sheriff’s Office will still be responding to calls. The difference is what we are limited in doing when we respond. Our hands are being tied in our ability to catch perpetrators. There are many other changes in the laws that limit our abilities in police work, including to de-escalate situations using less than lethal tools, as well as in assisting our overwhelmed mental health professionals. Ask them if they think these changes make it safer for them or not.
The letter last week also suggests the elected sheriff should be abolished because the sheriff “has very little accountability.” Elected sheriffs are accountable to the people. Taking the office away from the electorate is taking the power from the people and handing it to a few. I don’t think the people want to lose that power. The position of elected Sheriff is also written into our State’s constitution which makes it a moot point.
I’ll end by saying no matter what your views on any subject, and no matter what is said to attack or discourage law enforcement, we will still be there to aid you, and we will sacrifice our lives to keep you safe. It is our duty and it is what we signed up for.
Sheriff Mark Howie