He's the law in White County: Pat Garrett has the job but his tenure is tarred by scandals and rumors
Sheriff Pat Garrett
With a name like his he almost had to become sheriff. The original Sheriff Pat Garrett, the lawman from New Mexico who shot down outlaw Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881, has become the stuff of legend, an icon of the wild west and its complicated relationship with law enforcement a legend that has followed White Countys modern-day Pat Garrett for as long as he can remember.
"I was just a little tyke when Sheriff Davis brought me into his office, swore me in and handed me an ID card that said Sheriff Pat Garrett," Garrett recalled. "My mother still has that ID card, and a picture of me being sworn in. Sheriff Davis, he told me hed swear me in as sheriff if I promised never to run against him with a name like Pat Garrett."
Perhaps with encouragement from his father, a retired state trooper, Garrett took the legend of his namesake, and its implied inevitability, to heart.
"This is all Ive ever wanted to do," he said. But, like that earlier Sheriff Garrett, he came about the office only after first drifting on the outskirts of society, avoiding the rigorous regimen of schooling and career advancement that typically characterizes a career in law enforcement in the 21st century.
Never much one for book learning, Garrett completed 12 years in the Searcy School system but left Searcy High in 1982 without a diploma. He opted instead for an education in guns.
Garrett served two three-year stints in the Marines as a rifle expert and pistol sharpshooter stationed out of Camp Lejune, N.C. He served in the Philippines and the Persian Gulf in preparation of Operation Desert Storm, and jokes that he survived four helicopter crashes.
Returning to Searcy in 1988, Garrett began to work at his fathers ammunition business, Blue Star Cartridge & Brass, as a salesman. Even as sheriff, Garrett continues to work for his father, attending "six or seven" gun shows a year to ply the family wares, and said that whenever his tenure as sheriff is over, whether by electoral defeat or by retirement, he intends to go back to the ammunition business, perhaps as owner.
But that seems to be the fallback position, the career to take up to make ends meet or to earn a little extra cash. For Garrett, working in law enforcement has always been the primary goal, and the focus of his interactions with friends and family.
"There was a cop in Searcy I grew up with, Robert Parsons, who kept asking me to do a ride-along with him," he said. "And I finally did. We made an arrest on an old boy down at the car wash. We got in a fight, and I helped wrestle this guy down, and Ive been hooked ever since."
As Garrett turned 30, it was time to take some decisive steps to become a cop. In order to meet minimum requirements as a police officer, he returned to school, took classes at Foothills Technical Institute, and passed the General Education Development G.E.D. test in 1994.
From 1994 to 1998, Garrett volunteered as an auxiliary deputy with the Sheriffs Department.
"I spent hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars of my own money as an auxiliary," he said. "On guns, on uniforms, on gas."
But when Garrett applied to become a full-time paid deputy in 1997, then-Sheriff Jess Odom turned him down.
Rebuffed, Garrett found another avenue to advance his career in 1998 by running for and winning the elected office of constable for Gray Township, a slice of Searcy that included Garretts neighborhood.
Constables are a throwback to an earlier age, when far-flung towns were many days traveling distance from the sheriffs office in the county seat. The various townships would elect a local to take care of the day-to-day business needs of law enforcement, providing a vital link back to the sheriff.
Nowadays, however, constables are mostly process servers. Garrett described his job as constable at a hearing before the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards in 2003.
"I furnished a car," he said. "I had a uniform and I served civil process papers and warrants for the County of White. And for lawyers in particular on civil process to pay for the job I did, for fuel and insurance. And I made money doing it. Along with writing tickets and taking people to jail."
"Constable is an arcane law enforcement position," said Bob Satkowski, who sits on the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards. "Theres no training for it, no responsibility, and it doesnt answer to anyone. Its not law enforcement experience."
While constable, Garrett continued his efforts to become a police officer. He attended the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy for 12 weeks, and was awarded a basic and a radar certificate in 1999.
In 2000, Odom, a Democrat, placed his political career on the line by supporting a one-cent sales tax increase to raise revenue to construct a new county jail. The tax issue was placed on the same ballot as Odoms reelection bid, and passions were high both for and against the tax and for and against Odom. Garrett entered the debate as Odoms Republican challenger, opposing the tax.
Both Odom and the tax were defeated.
With that vote, Garrett, a man without a high school diploma or a single days experience working as a paid police officer, became the top law enforcement officer in Arkansas second largest county.
The childhood ID card designating Pat Garrett as sheriff of White County is lost somewhere back in his mothers scrapbooks. But no matter Garrett now has the real thing, and the 48,239 salary that goes with it.
Garretts election as sheriff was not a one-time fluke. He went on to handily win three more elections, defeating Ed Thorton in the 2002 Republican primary, Jerry King in the 2002 general election, and Michael Ray in the 2004 Republican primary.
"Ive never gotten less than 60 percent of the vote," he said.
Asked to explain his appeal to the voters, Garrett first gave a politicians answer, underscoring his commitment to fighting drugs and his concern for the countys young people. But opening up, he acknowledged that people seem to like a man who approaches the office with a cowboys touch.
"I just came back from the sheriffs convention, and I met with these guys who are a lot older than me," he said. "Theyd say to me, Youre supposed to stand in the back and watch. Youre supposed to being your administrative duties, and let the deputies do the work on the street. But thats just not me. I dont pawn off the work. I want to be out there making the arrests. Thats not for political means I genuinely like that kind of work."
Garrett is both criticized and praised for his active work in the field. He regularly makes arrests himself, even conducting such journeyman tasks as pulling people over for speeding.
"Hes right in the middle of it," said Sgt. Clayton Edwards. "Theres no denying that."
"One of my first days on the job, Clayton came to my office and told me they were getting ready to make a drug bust," said Garrett. "I said, great, Im coming along."
Garrett knew absolutely nothing about meth labs at the time.
"[Edwards] said, Just dont touch anything, Sheriff. Well, we got in there, and there was this bucket sitting on the floor, it looked like water to me. I kind of kicked it with my foot a bit, and it moved a little, made a little splash. You should have seen [Edwards] jump. I told you not to touch anything! It was some kind of chemical, real flammable, and it was sitting just a few feet from the fire place, from an open flame. I learned about meth labs that day."
Whether out in the field wrestling with two-bit crooks or back in headquarters acting the administrator, Garrett seems to consciously play with the image of himself as the cowboy-sheriff, a latter day incarnation of his 19th century namesake.
On the wall of his office hangs a 1886 photo of one of his predecessors, Sheriff J.H. Ford, overseeing White County's last public hanging in a lot that is now Spring Park. Thursday, Garrett agreed to pose for photos for this story wearing a black cowboy hat he keeps on a shelf in his office.
Earlier in the week, Garrett met with a reporter. Throughout the two-hour interview, a pistol sat on Garretts expansive wooden desk, midway between interviewer and interviewee.
Neither mentioned the gun.
Cowboy or not, say Garretts supporters, he has done his job.
"What the public is saying," said Bill Haynie, "is, yeah, Pat has his problems, but look at what hes done on the drug problem."
A utility engineer, Haynie has earned wide respect across Arkansas for his extensive knowledge of emergency and hazardous materials response, and for contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to such efforts. He currently serves on a volunteer basis as White Countys Interim Emergency Services Director.
Haynie is probably Garretts biggest supporter, a confidant and advisor, and a contributor to his re-election campaign.
"The drug problem hadnt been worked as strong before Pat became sheriff," Haynie said. "Hes out there actively going after the problem."
Before he took office, said Garrett, the sheriffs department had no deputies dedicated exclusively to drug interdiction and didnt seem to take the matter seriously.
"We didnt have breathing suits when I started here," he said. "We kept a green towel in the back of our car, and when we went on drug raids wed wrap it around our faces as a filter."
Now the department has basic equipment and a drug task force of four officers, although after Det. Britt Simpson resigned in controversy earlier this month, it is temporarily down to three officers.
Some of the officers salaries, it should be noted, are paid with state and federal grant money that wasnt available before Garrett took office.
All the same, the effort is working, he said.
"In 2001 we had 76 meth labs," said Garrett. "In 2002 there were 46, and in 2003 there we 45. The numbers are going down. I see that as a wonderful sign that we're making headway, but were still way high.
"Residential burglaries have also gone down. There were 243 in 2000, the year I took over the department, and 184 last year. Drugs and burglaries are closely tied together, because people steal to get drugs, and I see this as more proof that drug use is going down."
But the public can be cynical when it comes to crime reporting. It often seems that at budget time police officials say crime and drug use are up and they need more money, while at election time the same people say crime and drug use are down and they should be reelected.
Even the police cant agree.
"It's all smoke and mirrors," said Michael Ray, Interim Bradford Police Chief and Garretts unsuccessful opponent in the Republican primary. "The books are cooked. Every time they pull over a car that has some chemicals in the trunk, or when there's a piece of equipment, Garrett calls it a meth lab."
In Arkansas, crime figures are published by the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC), which collects statistics from the states law enforcement agencies. Those agencies are periodically audited to make sure they are accurately reporting crimes, but even Garrett seemed to suggest understanding the figures can be a guessing game.
"[The ACIC figures] are absolutely accurate," he said at one point in the interview. "If you want the real numbers you have to come here and look at the files," he said two minutes later.
The ACIC reports are available only through 2002, providing just a three-year trend from 2000, Odoms last year in office, through Garretts second year in office.
So far as a sheriff can be blamed or credited with the numbers of crimes committed in his jurisdiction, the numbers are mixed. Thefts and burglaries are down, but aggravated assaults are up. The number of arsons plummeted from 24 to four, but murders increased from zero to four. Overall, the total number of reported crimes per 100,000 population dipped slightly, from 2,199 to 1,945.
The biggest trend revealed by the numbers is in the percentage of cases cleared, meaning how many cases were either solved or determined to be unsolvable. In 2000, Odoms last year in office, 29.9 percent of cases were cleared. In 2002, under Garrett, just 7.3 percent were cleared.
Even that large statistical shift can be explained in two ways. It could mean that the department under Garrett is simply incapable of solving crimes, and more criminals are escaping justice in White County. But it could also mean that under Garrett the department is keeping investigations open longer, and is less willing than Odom to write off a crime as "unsolvable."
Comparisons to other counties sheriffs departments provides no help at all. In 2002, Yell County cleared zero percent of its cases and Randolf County cleared 83.4 percent. Other counties were somewhere in between.
Faced with such ambiguity, were left with spin. And thats where Garrett excels.
"People like to see me working on crimes," he said. "They like to see me making arrests."
Garrett can be counted on to be personally present when his department makes a major arrest, and he has an uncanny ability to get himself into the frame of a news photo. His text messaging skills match those of the most dexterous teenager, a skill he regularly uses to alert reporters to breaking meth busts.
But people are confusing his eager personality with calculated public relations, said Garrett.
As an example, he cited last weeks arrest of a Bald Knob man for intent to sell marijuana. Over 100 pounds of pot were discovered at the scene.
"Man, I just wanted to go out there and make the arrest," said Garrett. "Weve been working on him since Ive been in office. Over a year ago, we got some evidence, and I said, lets go arrest him. But Clayton said, No, Pat, lets get him good, we need more time.
"I dont like to wait," continued Garrett. "I want to do it now. Its like I told the Bald Knob Police Chief: Ill do it now, then Ill call it in later."
The problem with Garretts headlong personality, say his critics, is it leads to an arbitrary management style that relies heavily on the vagaries of office politics and selective punishment and reward.
"He threatens the employees with their jobs, if they dont do what he says," said Cindy Cullum, who was herself fired by Garrett.
Cullum acknowledged that Garrett has the right to fire his employees "at will," and that not following orders can be a valid reason for termination. But, she said, with Garrett its a matter of degree.
"He kind of reminds me of Hitler," she said. "Theres a difference between being a boss and being as ass."
Garrett correctly points out that many of his most vocal critics, including Cullum, have been fired from the department. (Others fired from the department include Kathy Spurlock, whose husband Steve Spurlock is Garretts Democratic Party opponent in the upcoming election, and Michael Ray, Garretts opponent in the Republican Party primary.)
He also correctly points out that several fired employees appealed their terminations through the countys grievance committee to no avail, and that while several others have sued over the loss of their jobs, none have sued successfully.
A federal lawsuit filed by former employee Debbie Gatewood against Garrett and his chief deputy, Wayne Black, has been scheduled for a May trial, but no judgments have been made as of this week. Gatewood alleges that Garrett illegally fired her for personal opinions she voiced over her home phone in a conversation illegally recorded by Garrett. Garrett has asked the court to dismiss the suit.
"I havent been sued any more than any other sheriff," said Garrett. "In fact, I probably inherited a few lawsuits from Jess Odom. It just comes with the office."
Cullum and others further point at Garretts past romantic relationships with his employees as proof of favoritism within the department.
Garrett understandably said that his private life should not be opened up for political purposes, but several incidents involving his personal life directly touch on public policy issues.
The first occurred long before he was sheriff, in 1993, when Garrett was convicted by the Judsonia Municipal Court on a third degree battery charge in an incident involving his wife Tammy. (Its not clear from the records if the Garretts had divorced before or after the incident.)
Garrett first publicly acknowledged the conviction in a public forum this March, but said that when he brought "more evidence" forward, his record was expunged.
In response to a freedom of information act request asking him to release Garretts court record, Municipal Court Judge Donald Raney acknowledged that there was a 1993 conviction against Garrett, and that he, Raney, expunged the record.
But, wrote Raney, the actual court documents were destroyed in December of 2003 as part of the normal record-clearing periodically undertaken by city government.
Nor could Raney simply disclose the details of the case.
"I do not trust my memory as to the specific charge or charges and the deposition of the charge or charges," he wrote.
Garrett, for his part, maintains he did nothing wrong.
"It was a set-up deal on a Christmas Eve, and I don't think I should say anything more about it," he said soon after the March forum.
Pressed about the matter this week, Garrett repeated his denial.
"This did not happen," he said. "What I was accused of did not happen."
Moreover, he said, the incident could not be considered domestic abuse.
"We werent living together. We were divorced. I didnt touch her," he continued. "I didnt hit her, never."
"Never," repeated Garrett.
But Garretts denials are contradicted by two documents in his divorce file.
The first document is an undated hand-written note from Garrett to his wife, in which he discussed their sex life and said he intended to proceed with the divorce. He then brought up past problems.
"And for me leaving you and hitting you, that was the past," wrote Garrett. "Do as you wish Tammy, as Im only looking after your interests."
The second document is an April 1, 1993 letter from Tammy Garretts attorney, Chuck Buchan, to Pat Garretts attorney, James Morgan. Buchan listed in the letter people who might have been called to testify on Tammys behalf, including a woman named Janet Vancil, who would testify "as to bruises on Tammy that Tammy claimed were caused by Patrick."
In the end, Vancil did not testify, and allegations of abuse were not part of the divorce settlement. Moreover, Garrett was awarded custody of the couples children, and Tammy Garrett was ordered to pay child support. Pat Garrett maintains custody of the children.
The incident raises concerns that Garrett cannot control his well-known temper and that he may be in violation of a federal gun control law.
The Brady Bill, the broad federal legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and incorporated into the U.S. Code as Title 18, Section 922, prohibits those convicted of domestic violence charges from ever possessing or dealing in firearms. The law was retroactive, and made no exemption for police officers.
The rule concerning domestic violence convictions has been ruled by the courts to include any battery charge, even a misdemeanor battery charge, that involves violence against a family member, spouse, or cohabitant.
Satkowski, the Law Enforcement Standards commissioner, wouldnt comment directly on Garretts battery case because he didnt know its particulars. But he did say that the Law Enforcement Standards Commission interprets the Brady Bill broadly, and so far as other similar prohibitions go, the commission makes no exceptions for convictions that have been expunged.
"There have been recent amendments to Section 922 that give exemptions to police officers on duty, and some people use this to say, well, were always on duty," said Satkowski. "Again, I really dont know about [Garretts] case. I will say that one of the reasons the Brady Bill was passed is because it addresses law enforcement personnel using their positions and weapons to threaten their spouse.
"What worries me more than him carrying a gun on duty is [Garretts] involvement in gun shows," he continued. "To me, thats a conflict of interest that has very few parallels."
Satkowski said hes generally in support of laws that require background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases, and he looks askance at gun shows, which provide a loophole for those laws.
"We think of gun shows as places where the conspiracy folks and extremists are buying ammunition," he said. "Im sure most of the vendors at the shows are reputable, but for a head of a law enforcement agency to be involved in selling at gun shows, that doesnt seem appropriate."
RELATIONSHIPS AND EMPLOYEES
Garretts personal and professional lives became impossibly entangled with his present wife, Donya.
The two met when Donya Moore was working in the sheriffs departments dispatch center. She soon filed for divorce against her then-husband, William Moore, but he counter-sued on grounds of adultery.
Garrett became involved in the divorce proceedings when he was subpoenaed for a disposition scheduled for Oct. 7, 2002, less than a month before his reelection to a second term as sheriff.
The Moores divorce file doesnt state why, but Garrett never testified.
Judge Craig Hannah subsequently ruled in William Moores favor. Donya Moore then married Garrett, and Donya Garrett gave birth child on July 8, 2003. Subsequent court documents name Pat Garrett as the childs biological father.
Businesses and public agencies have had a difficult time defining a coherent policy regarding managers dating their employees. The trend in recent years has been to allow the practice, with lots of provisos.
But while an adulterous affair with an employee resulting in a child is not illegal, it is especially impolitic in conservative White County, Ark. If nothing else, Garretts relationship with his wife caused on-going perception problems among those who work for him.
"Ask [Garrett] about dating his employees," said Kay Robinson this week. Robinson, like Cullum, was fired by Garrett.
Donya Garrett left her job at the dispatch center, and now works for the Searcy Municipal Court.
But the dispatch center became the focus of an incident involving Donya Garrett late in the evening of June 22 of this year.
Garrett acknowledged that something happened that night involving his wife, but maintains he doesnt know much about it.
"There was no physical altercation," he said. "I know that some things were said, but the dispatch center was never in any danger... there are only two people that know what happened, and theyre not talking."
There are no police reports about the incident.
Garrett said that with the exception of his wife, he hasnt dated his employees.
"I am not dating or involved with anyone in the department," he said.
Garrett readily acknowledges, however, that he has had a long personal relationship with former Deputy Jim Hale.
Hale most recently was cited for drunken driving in Dallas, Texas, but he was also the subject of an Aug. 1, 2004 incident involving alcohol.
Garrett wont give particulars of the earlier incident, beyond saying that Hales misconduct was reported by someone in the sheriffs department, and that no member of the public has filed a formal complaint concerning the incident.
But whatever happened, Garrett was faced with a dilemma.
"I met with Bill Haynie for advice," said Garrett. "Jimbo [Hale] and I have known each other since we were in high school, and I wanted to make sure I did the right thing.
"Yes, hes my friend, but I need to come down hard when somethings wrong. I said to [Hale], produce or be gone, and I sent him upstairs. I reduced his rank from Lieutenant to Sergeant."
"[Garretts] punishment of Hale was more severe than I suggested," said Haynie. "Its a real blow to reduce rank."
But the discipline measure didnt affect either the friendship or Hales tendency to abuse alcohol.
Hale and Garrett vacationed together in Dallas, Texas last month in order to work at a gun show for Garretts father. While there, Hale was ticketed for drunken driving. He was driving a truck normally driven by Garrett.
Garrett later said that he had no idea Hale was drinking. Garret said Hale came to his hotel room at 9:30 p.m. and asked to borrow the truck.
But according to police documents, just 45 minutes later, at 10:15 p.m., Hale tested positive for a blood alcohol content of 0.165 percent, over twice the legal limit.
Later that night, said Garrett, he received a call from the Baylor Hospital Police Department notifying him that Hale had been arrested.
"The woman I talked to said that a rookie cop had gotten to [Hale] first and that if they had known beforehand they may have been able to help, but that [Hale] was already in jail," said Garrett.
This week, Garrett said he was not suggesting that his deputies should be held to a different standard than the public at large.
"I was only saying what the officer at Baylor said," he said.
After the arrest, Garrett took no disciplinary measures against Hale "In America, youre innocent until proven guilty," he said, pointing out that Hale had yet to go to court on the charge.
Just three days before Hales DWI arrest another deputy, Det. Britt Simpson, was involved in an alcohol-related incident in the east Arkansas town of Brinkley.
According to a statement provided by a Brinkley police officer, on Sept. 21 a drunken Simpson patted down several black men for drugs, took the officers gun and threatened the men with it, and repeatedly used a racial slur. According to the statement, the men at the scene later said Simpson drove through an apartment complex firing a gun out his truck window, but police could not later independently verify that accusation.
When word of the incident reached Garrett, he suspended Simpson for 10 days without pay. Garrett later said the punishment was "a big deal in White County."
But as the Hale and Simpson incidents became public, Garretts department was increasingly scrutinized and, on Oct. 6 both men resigned. Garrett insists he did not ask for their resignations.
"Theyre both really ashamed," he said. "And now their careers are ended."
The close timing of the two incidents is unfortunate coincidence, said Garrett.
"This is a hard job, and my deputies are under a lot of stress," he said. "But theres no alcohol problem in the department. If I thought someone had a problem, Id pull them aside and suggest they do something about it. Whether they did or not would be left up to them."
Taken together, Garretts reaction to the scandals that have rocked the sheriffs department are reflective of a capricious management style, say his critics.
"Hale gets a DWI and nothing happens," said Robinson. "I got fired for not saying good morning."
Garrett disputes the accusation that he treats employees unfairly.
"I havent terminated anyone in the department unjustly," he said.
Garrett said he has recently established a disciplinary review board, made up of randomly selected employees, to suggest responses to employee misconduct. The board, however, is not used for Garretts inner circle.
"I will take care of my staff, my ranking officers," he said.
There are hints at other problems in the Garretts department, not the least of which is at least one federal investigation.
County Attorney Mike Rainwater acknowledged last month that a federal grand jury has subpoenaed records from the department. Rainwater said he didnt know what the investigation was all about, and Garrett wouldnt say. As is policy, the U.S. Attorneys Office in Little Rock neither confirmed nor denied the existence of an investigation.
Citing an on-going investigation its unclear if this investigation is related to the federal grand jury investigation the sheriffs department refused to release documents related to a prisoner named Raymond Wilson. An injured Wilson was in the custody of officers from the department when he was brought to the jail in 2003, and the focus of the investigation are accusations of the use of unnecessary force.
Still, the fact of an investigation doesnt prove misconduct or improper managerial oversight.
"Agencies are always investigating each other," said Rainwater. "Thats the way its supposed to work it keeps everybody honest."
And if the federal investigation or investigations do result in charges against sheriff department employees, indictments wont be unsealed until at least Nov. 3, the day after the election.
Satkowski, with the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, has been following Garretts career since Garrett was a constable. The two first tangled when the commission rejected Garretts application for certification to teach law enforcement classes. Garrett intended to teach deputies within his department, although the department already had several certified instructors.
Garretts application was rejected because he did not meet a requirement for three years experience as a full-time law enforcement officer. This was in 2003, after Garrett had been elected to his second term, and after he had served two years as sheriff. Garrett appealed the denial, saying that the commission should have considered his two years as constable in addition to his two years as sheriff.
Satkowski maintained that constable work shouldnt be, and historically hadnt been, considered full-time law enforcement work.
At the Jan., 2003 hearing, both Garrett and Satkowski stood their ground. Both agree now that the commission continued to debate the issue until it became moot because Garrett had served as sheriff for three years.
REQUIREMENTS FOR OFFICERS
Satkowski has long been trying to strengthen standards for law enforcement officers in Arkansas, but it has been an uphill battle.
"Weve had to fight attempts to do away with the G.E.D. requirement," he said. "I mean, we already have police officers out there who cant read and write."
In 2001, just as Garrett was taking office, Satkowski supported House Bill 1038 , which would strengthen law enforcement standards. Among other things, the bill would for the first time impose minimum requirements on police officers for physical ability and annual, on-going training in new technology and policing methods.
One provision of the bill applied directly to elected law enforcement officials, including sheriffs. It would require them to attend an 80-hour management program "to promote a better understanding of management concepts, the laws of the state and enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of their office."
The bill was defeated in the legislature.
"The sheriffs lobbying group defeated it," said Satkowski. "They wanted nothing to do with it."
Satkowski was candid about his concerns about sheriffs in Arkansas.
"Heres the irony they dont need any qualification at all," he said. "Anyone can run for office, and anyone can be elected. They dont have to have any training, or any experience. I can tell you that right now we have people in elected positions in this state who have no interest in gaining real law enforcement experience or training, and in fact have disdain for that kind of thing.
"Why should [sheriff] be an elected position anyway?" he continued. "Why cant they be appointed? Why cant we put the same conditions on them as we put on police chiefs and other law enforcement officers?"