May 14, 2006

ISSUE: -- Sheriff R. Thomas Golding has announced that he is ending his campaign to seek election to another term, pointing to frustration with "underhanded tactics" used by detractors and political opponents to discredit him. Golding's decision came after a complaint that his staff has been intimidating employees into supporting his campaign, as well as other accusations of misconduct and complaints of morale problems within the agency. The sheriff's withdrawal from the race is the latest example of the turbulence that has occurred during election campaigns and is characteristic of a system in which the county's top law enforcement official is an elected position. In the past, such instances have sparked discussion over whether the sheriff should be appointed instead of elected. Should the job of sheriff of Harford County continue to be an elected position?

Electing sheriff is only right way

The concept of an elected head of law enforcement has been historically rooted in our government since the inception of this country and our state.

The position of sheriff is the only place in our country, and in most of the world, where the citizens have any direct input into the hiring of a head law enforcement agency and how it should be managed. If we decide to end the election of the sheriff, maybe we should end election of most other state and county political positions.

We should just elect a governor and let that person hire all the people who would run our counties and the state. If the election of our sheriff is a bad idea, then the election of the County Council, state delegates and senators is also a bad idea.

Politics allows the common folks to see the warts on those who govern us. To be elected means to stand the test of public scrutiny and survive. The concept of "that which does not kill us, makes us stronger" truly applies to political elections.

Without the election of the sheriff, we would have just another chief of a county police department. That department would then be a puppet of the politicians that would hire the chief.

The chief would be a servant of the governmental unit they work for, not the citizens of the jurisdiction they serve.

Clarence Terrill

Forest Hill

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