Sheriff Doug Darr of Adams County, Colorado replies to Aurora Sentinel’s idiotic editorial

55 of the 62 elected Sheriffs in Colorado have filed a Federal lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the Colorado’s new gun control laws passed by the Democrat controlled legislature and signed by the Democrat governor.  The editors at Aurora Sentinel newspaper are offended that these Sheriffs would have the temerity to question their “betters” in Colorado’s new left-wing legislature.

The editors start right out of the gate with a factual error:  “Fifty-four of the state’s 64 elected sheriffs….”  There are not 64 “elected” sheriffs, there are only 62 because the other 2 are political appointees, they are not elected by the people.  And there are 55 sheriffs challenging these new gun control laws in Federal Court.  I guess the reason the editors are trying to slightly reduce the numbers is because they have labeled these sheriffs as “rogues.”  All 55 of them.  That’s another error of mixed fact and interpretation. A rogue is someone of whose behavior the majority disapproves; a rogue is someone whose behavior makes him an outsider.  If the people you’re talking about constitute a super majority of 55 out of 62, “rogue” is the wrong word no matter what their behavior may be.  These Sheriffs are far from rogues.  Compared to the typical politician in elected office today, they are shining examples of principled honor and public rectitude.

The factual errors and uninformed opinions don’t stop. The entire editorial is riddled with mistakes of fact and nonsensical conclusions.

The editors make the ridiculous claim that these sheriffs are not trained cops.  Most elected sheriffs in the United States, before they were first elected, had years of experience and training first as street cops and later as law enforcement managers and executives.  Colorado is no exception.  Sheriff Grayson Robinson of Arapahoe County, for example, has over 25 years experience in just about every aspect of law enforcement, from street cop on patrol, sheriff’s deputy, to lieutenant in a large city police department, to undersheriff before being elected to his current post.  Sheriff Robinson is not some outlier exception to the rule, he is the rule.

I happen to have a fair amount of professional firearms training and I received some of the best of that training from a man who was the elected sheriff of Boone County, Indiana at the time.  He and his undersheriff are two of the finest examples of leaders who lead from the front one is likely to find anywhere. Police academies across America are populated by Sheriffs who help run them and train recruits. To make the blanket assertion that elected sheriffs are not trained cops is utterly ridiculous.  Sheriffs are generally the best sort of cops because they have to stand for election every few years. Being accountable to the people and not to some political hack for their performance, they are closer to the people they serve and protect.

That brings me to the next laughable claim the Sentinel’s editors make: that sheriffs are political animals and police chiefs aren’t.  I submit that a political appointee is often the most political of anyone and in the worst way because they are subject to the whims of not just the politician who appoints them but to all the hacks and administrators in the mayor’s political empire. The people themselves are usually the last ones a chief of police feels beholden to.  This explains why the chiefs often support gun control laws and beat cops and sheriffs generally don’t.  It sure isn’t because chiefs of police are smarter.

Sheriff Doug Darr of Adams County, Colorado is having none of this rubbish from the editors of the Aurora Sentinel.  

It seems the editorial board’s opinion is that we should agree with and blindly enforce every piece of new legislation without challenge.

As elected sheriffs and the chief law enforcement officers of our respective counties, we have an obligation to challenge potentially unconstitutional laws on behalf of the citizens of the state of Colorado. The very first part of our oath of office is to support the Constitution, and it is our mission to preserve the foundation upon which this republic is built. [emphasis added]

There’s the main difference difference between a sheriff and a chief of police.  If a chief of police takes an oath at all it is to support and protect the politician who appointed him.  Even if they do take an oath to protect the Constitution, everyone knows their first obligation, their perceived duty and the sum total of their loyalty is to the mayor or city manager who appointed them, as well as all of his minions and yes men.  Almost no sheriff in America outside the deep South controls a political machine the way big-city mayors do.

Sheriff Darr continues:

We believe these gun control bills are potentially unconstitutional and in many cases, unenforceable.

We have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of our counties. They elect us to establish priorities and use resources wisely. The Sheriffs’ priorities and resources are focused on apprehending murders, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, burglars – the evil element in our society – not the law-abiding citizens whom these bills will impact most.

These bills do little to make Colorado a safer place to live, work, play, and raise a family.  Instead, they will have the opposite effect because they greatly restrict the right of decent, law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, their families, and their homes. [emphasis added]

The hacks in the legislature said as much themselves when they passed these laws.  Governor Hickenlooper also acknowledged that these laws would not have stopped James Holmes or Adam Lanza had they been in force before those events.  Connecticut had stricter gun laws already on the books before Sandy Hook.

Sheriff Darr continues:

The editorial makes the inaccurate assertion that “what the public knows is that these sheriffs are often not trained cops, but just state residents without felony records who never even had to take any law enforcement training at all…” Actually, they are the elected Sheriffs of Colorado, professional law enforcement executives entrusted with public safety responsibilities.  It’s unfortunate that the board has made an assertion intended to demean those with whom they disagree.

Take time to review the resumes of the 55 elected Sheriffs who signed on to the lawsuit. If the board had done the math, it would have found these Sheriffs have an accumulation of more than 1,000 years of combined law enforcement experience, including Arapahoe County’s Grayson Robinson, Adams County’s Doug Darr, and Dave Stong of Alamosa, all of whom have more than 40 years of professional law enforcement experience each. Most of the Sheriffs have between 20 and 40 years experience, are college-educated, and are graduates of the FBI National Academy and/or the National Sheriffs’ Institute.

The editorial is an example of the conflict and divide that separates us both locally and across the country.  It seems they believe that we should just trust that our legislature got it exactly right and assume that the new statutes are on target.  They ignore the fact that under our Constitution, the Judicial Branch is the authority to determine the constitutionality of issues of law. We can’t get a determination until the issue gets before the courts and the lawsuit is the vehicle to get that done.  If that never happens we will continue to be divided, and the conflict will continue for years to come.

It bothers the sheriffs that the editorial seems to have the opinion that we have no interest in effectively dealing with gun violence in this country and nation.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We simply want new laws to be reasonably enforceable and to comply with constitutional standards.  We want to see an effort to effectively deal with people who have serious mental health issues, chronic sobriety issues, and those with a history of violent behavior.  We are not likely to have much success in dealing with issues of gun violence until we make a legitimate effort to keep guns out of the hands of people with those problems.

Honestly, we wish this lawsuit wasn’t necessary, but, we took an oath to defend the Constitution and we take that very seriously.

Thank you Sheriff Doug Darr, Adams County, Colorado.

To the Aurora Sentinel’s credit, they printed Sheriff Darr’s response to their editorial.  The editors should take stock of themselves, and apologize to Colorado’s public-spirited sheriffs.



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