As sheriff of Grant County, I have to admit, this has been one of the most difficult positions I have ever held. One would think that the stresses of the job would come from dealing with employees, the public I serve, day to day issues and the dangers of being a police officer. Since becoming sheriff in 2000, I can honestly say, I have tried very hard to take responsibility for the elected office that I hold. As an elected official, the sheriff, is given his authority, duties and responsibilities by the state constitution and the state statutes.
The sheriff of a county is the chief executive officer. The sheriff holds the highest elected position in a county. The sheriff is not subordinate to the County Court, the county treasurer or any other appointed employee of the county. The sheriff of a county is given the authority by state law to organize (command structure, policies, procedures etc...) his elective office as he deems appropriate. This allows the sheriff to determine the quality and quantity of work, unless the sheriff relinquishes these rights or negotiates these through an agreement such as a labor contract.
State law also gives the sheriff the sole authority over his deputies. State law clearly says that a sheriff of a county can deputize (hire, fire, discipline) at his discretion. Those deputized, work at the pleasure of the sheriff. I believe that. When the laws were written, it built in protection that the sheriff would maintain control of his elective office (policies, procedures, decisions). This law prohibits any other elected official within the county to direct a deputy sheriff (or the sheriff) as to what his duties and responsibilities are. The way that our government is set up, is so that one individual does not have the ability to govern the entire structure of our county government. The people maintain control of their government through the election process. This is why we elect a justice of the peace, assessor, clerk, treasurer, surveyor, etc...
I am of the opinion that the sheriff needs to work through the appropriate channels and with other individuals within county government when and where he can to ensure that liability is reduced or minimized. I believe that it is in the best interest of the public we serve to work together for the betterment of our county.
When a sheriff has the responsibility of locking people up in a jail and could be faced with a use offeree decision that could take someone's life this could cost the county literally millions of dollars. But when a sheriff can't spend $20 out of his budget without prior County Court approval, there is something wrong. As long as the public continues to entrust me with the elected position I hold, I will continue to perform the duties of sheriff to the best of my abilities. The thing that I cannot comprehend is why individuals within the county government won't or can't allow those entrusted within elective office to do their job.
Sheriff Glenn Palmer