Now that I have read the suit filed by sheriff Christopher, I am even more concerned with what the end game may be. In it he quotes previous Delaware Constitutions prior to the current one from 1897 to justify his claims. Obviously once new constitutions are passed and ratified the previous ones have no bearing on current law.
I am again troubled by the confrontational language that is used even in this legal document such as “bring the sheriff to heel”. The suit also mentions the lack of a county-wide police force to justify the need for the sheriff’s office to have complete arrest powers.
But one of the more troubling aspects of this document is in the request of judgement portion. Sheriff Christopher is actually asking the courts to state that the office of sheriff should be allowed to operate, ” without direction, restriction, or interference of any kind from any other government official or entity within the state of Delaware”.
If the court were to actually rule in this way, they, the court, would be forever giving up even their authority to pass future judgements in a case involving the sheriff’s office.
Also included in the request of judgement portion is the matter of lights and decals on vehicles, so we are back to this again, not just training. The suit also states that the office will be empowered to,
” a. maintain the safety of persons and property
b. suppressing all acts of violence and enforcing all laws of the state of Delaware
c. detaining and arresting on view anyone who breaks the peace
d. detaining and arresting without warrant anyone who has committed any crime or misdemeanor, and anyone whom there are reasonable grounds of suspicion of having committed a felony.”
Now I know that Sheriff Christopher has stated that he is not seeking to create a county police force, but doesn’t what he is asking for in this suit sound a lot like a police force?
I am actually encouraged by the wording of the suit, since I feel it will demonstrate exactly what Sheriff Christopher’s view of the office is and will allow others to understand that, his vision is for a full-fledged police force. So once again I say, the question is, do the citizens of Sussex County want to pay for another police force?
This suit goes far beyond simply asking for training for the safety of his deputies, it seeks complete autonomy of the office of sheriff. It seeks to redefine the office of sheriff outside the legislative process based on one man’s view of the office.
In my personal opinion Sheriff Christopher has once again over played his hand here. Again, instead of waiting for an actual law to base his suit against, he has chosen to rest these broad request on the vague language within the state constitution.
I would also like to point out that while Sheriff Christopher and his supporters have repeatedly stated that they do not feel that the legislative branch of state government has the authority to define the office of sheriff, in this suit, Sheriff Christopher is asking the judicial branch to do just that, and also asking, in so doing, to give up any future authority over the office of sheriff. If the court were to rule in favor of Sheriff Christopher, it would be a radical act of an activist court legislating from the bench. This is not my understanding of a conservative form of government. Seeking courts to set down rulings that are not based on actual law and asking courts to interpret laws that do not yet exist, based on vague language in a constitution reminds me of the use of the “general welfare” clause to raise taxes and is what we have come to expect from progressives.
We can only anticipate that if this suit is found against Sheriff Christopher, that he and his supporters will claim a liberal conspiracy. This will not be the end, this will not end, I predict, until it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, since there are forces from outside the state of Delaware driving the bus now, forces with their own agendas. That is a shame, since I am a states right believer, I feel that this can and should be handled within the state.