By Jim R. Schwiesow
Most of us know of the venality that infests our legislative bodies, and we are also well aware that our judiciary is filled with tyrannical and dictatorial megalomaniacs whose decrees, from the bench, more often than not trample on the constitutional freedoms of the American people. But, what is often not detected in this amorphous degeneracy, which parades as a government for and by the people, is a third component, and that component is the bloated and rotted bureaucracy, which underlies and supports the whims and caprices of the administrative, legislative and judicial incursions upon the rights, lives and property of the citizens of this nation.
This huge body of non-elected and non-accountable faceless individuals laughingly called civil servants is compartmentalized into various agencies with assorted and diverse control over every aspect of the individual lives of neigh onto 300 million American citizens. These agencies have powers far in excess of most political agents. They have the absolute authority to write administrative rules, which in effect have the force of law. They interpret the bills passed by legislative bodies and put into place provisions to implement the provisions thereof. It is their interpretation that marks the character of every piece of legislation passed by our legislative entities on both the federal and state levels. They are the slavering pandering watchdogs for their masters in the various branches of government, again on both the state and federal levels. As such they are given law enforcement powers that are very nearly commensurate with that of fascist totalitarian regimes. Who is going to rein them in when they commit excesses, in their zeal, and come down on citizens with an iron fist? Who, the legislators who depend upon them to tell them what the bills that they have passed really mean, or the judges who depend upon them to enforce their decrees? The answer is most often, nobody. The American people who are supposed to be the government certainly have no recourse when they are being tormented, harassed or invidiously maligned by these cretins. What are they going to do? They can’t vote them out, and they can’t fire them. They are an empire unto themselves.
Daily we read of the excesses of bureaucrats of various stripe. In a recent email from a reader of my columns, I was given the particulars of just such excess by one of our dear old bureaucratic watchdogs, in this case the USDA. The reader wrote the following:
“Noticing in your bio that you were a sheriff. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. Granted it may sound VERY naive. My understanding was that the sheriff was the person in charge of law enforcement for a county. I don't really understand to the extent this authority extends, hence my question.
I am not sure if you are familiar with the federal government program called National Animal Identification System at the direction of the USDA. It is being implemented in all 50 states in a 3-step process.
This, I believe, is in total violation of our 4th amendment rights to property and it gets ugly. I can send links if interested.
Last month the USDA swooped down on a game farm in Virginia at 5am and arrested the owner of the farm on misdemeanor charges of operating without permits. After they "escorted" him off his property, the USDA and the Virginia police swooped in and began exterminating the family’s herd of pigs because, they said, of an alleged suspicion of "psuedorabies". It was a bloody mess as they dragged the dead and still living wounded bodies across the farm in front of the spouse and into the presence of the man who had been arrested.
My question for you is, could that sheriff have stopped this event from happening or at least slowed the process. Those opposed to NAIS can see much more of these types of "fearful tactics” occurring. This local sheriff admitted that he had never seen anything like this before. Columnist’s comment: He must be a new sheriff.
Many other serious implications arise surrounding the psuedorabies allegations. Slaughter is NOT the only option. Protocol provides for testing by local veterinarians and numerous other options are available, which could have been pursued.
I am specifically curious about the sheriff's role and if others in other communities have protection by the sheriff in cases where they are being unconstitutionally violated by state or federal enforcement agencies.
Good question! But, before I get into that I want to express my opinion as to why these messes occur. And this one was indeed a mess of huge proportions. The reader’s account was mild in comparison to the actual events as recorded at the following link: [Read] That the constitutional rights of an American citizen were trampled underfoot by bureaucrats of the USDA, who were aided and abetted by the Virginia State Police, is an established fact. There are just too many witnesses to the outrage to allow for a cover-up. As bureaucrats are wont to do, these bureaucrats are doing their best to obfuscate the matter with a series of lies and desperate prevarication. But, prevaricate as they may, they violated the supposedly inviolable right to due process of an American citizen big time. And they were not only aided and abetted by the Virginia State Police, but by the Virginia State Courts as well. But, I digress. Why are people in this nation placed into these execrable situations?
It seems to me that our people are often a victim of their own desire for, and I can think of no better term, guarantee against failure. We see this particularly in the area of agriculture. With the demise of the family farm and the concomitant rise of corporate farming powerful lobbying forces have been brought into play to elicit from legislative bodies various tools to counteract the speculative nature of the market. Price controls, price supports, subsidies, import controls and trade restrictions have been put into place to eliminate competition and to insulate the agricultural industry from free market forces. A huge and powerful regulatory bureaucracy has grown up around these programs to enforce compliance with governmental regulation over what is supposed to be a private industry. And all farmers, small and large, have been caught up in this conscienceless meat grinder. Sometimes we pay a price for our constant quest for a failsafe society. Now, lets consider the reader’s question: “Could the that sheriff have stopped this event from happening, or at least slowed the progress?” You bet he could have, and not only that, he should have.
The sheriff is unique in the law enforcement arena in that he is the last, and only, law enforcement administrator that is elected to his office by the people. The administrative heads of all other law enforcement entities are appointed to their positions, either by mayors, city councils, city managers, and politicians or other managerial boards. The people have no voice in the selection of these law enforcement administrators, and no recourse if they do not agree with their policies.
The sheriff is the only law enforcement official with the authority to summon the power of the county. The sheriff's has the right, granted by Posse Comitatus, to assemble a militia or posse, and the power to deputize citizens and require them to assist in the keeping of the peace and the enforcement of laws. The sheriff represents the power of the people; he does not represent the power of the state. His use of the power of the state must not conflict with his obligation to protect the individual rights of the people whom he represents. When it comes to keeping the peace no one's authority exceeds that of the sheriff
The sheriff of that county had not only the authority; he had the absolute obligation, to intercede to protect the constitutional rights of the owner of this farm. The sheriff, if necessary could have, and should have, employed his deputies and summoned the power of the county to thwart the unconstitutional intrusion and trespass upon his constituent’s property. Often times federal and state agencies will approach the sheriffs’ to elicit their complicity in incursions upon the rights of a member of their constituencies. A weak sheriff, or a sheriff who does not understand the extent of his authority, will often join in questionable activities against those whom he represents, or, as in this case stand by as a spectator. As I stated previously the sheriff is absolutely obligated to his duty to protect the rights of the people, and that obligation is primary to any obligation whatever to support other law enforcement agencies in whatever cause.
During my tenure as sheriff I received one day a call from a state environmental agency officer who said to me, sheriff I want you to go see some farmers in the west end of your county and order them to shut down their irrigations systems.” My reply was to tell him to go see these farmers himself, but if they ordered him to leave their property he had better do so promptly or he and I would have a confrontation that he would not enjoy.
The people in states where sheriff’s offices have not been unconstitutionally eliminated should demand that their sheriffs’ live up to their obligation to represent the interests of the people who elect them, and if they refuse to do so, the people should remove them because they are unfit to occupy the office.
© 2006 - Jim R. Schwiesow - All Rights Reserved
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Jim Schwiesow is a retired sheriff with 46 years of law enforcement service. He served with the Unites States Army with the occupation forces in post war Berlin, Germany, and has a total of nine years of military service, which includes six years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
His law enforcement service includes: three years in the military police, fifteen years as an Iowa municipal police officer, and twenty-eight years as the duly elected sheriff of Sioux County, Iowa.
Jim has written a number of articles, which have been published in various professional law enforcement journals.
The sheriff, if necessary could have, and should have, employed his deputies and summoned the power of the county to thwart the unconstitutional intrusion and trespass upon his constituent’s property.