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Sheriffs Need to Take The Lead











By Sheriff Jim R. Schwiesow, Ret.
November 12, 2011

Recently eight duly elected and active Oregon and California county sheriffs’ addressed, in a public forum, federal and state intrusions upon the unalienable rights of their citizens and the unconstitutional (illegal) incursions of warrantless state and federal endeavors in their jurisdictions. By their testimony these fine sheriffs’ verbally documented the assault on sovereignty and the abridgement of individual rights by the despotic strives that they have personally witnessed.

Most disturbing was the fact that federal encroachments were aided and abetted by state politicians who were willing to bargain away state sovereignty and the exclusive right to local control in exchange for federal dollars; a disturbing development given that states ought to employ a barrier against unconstitutional federal trespass upon the personal liberties of their people.

If you became aware of this event, via the mass media, friendly reader you were indeed a rare exception as the particulars of the forum had all of the earmarks of being a closely guarded secret by a media that totally eschews any moral obligation to apprise the public of other than sensationally motivated, politically correct, or politically actuated and patronage-directed substance. It is a bread and butter issue with the media why waste precious air-time and tabloid space on trivial matters such as constitutional devastation when there are so many millions of dollars to be garnered through sensationalistic enterprise and by political and corporate patronage.


And eight sheriffs do not a consensus make. Think not that these eight ethically inclined and morally sound sheriffs are indicative of the profession of which they are a part, or that they are suggestive of the majority of their counterparts that are spread across the length and breadth of this nation; because they are not.

God bless their selfless souls, I would like to be able to shake their hands and convey to each of them personally my words of thanks and to express my admiration and respect for the courage that enabled them to make a stand in the face of federal and state tyranny.

These eight lonely souls - and the few others of their caliber across the nation - who direct the powers of the office of sheriff to an unremitting and persevering preservation and enforcement of the unalienable and inherent protections of the Constitution are distressingly rare.


The power of the Office of Sheriff does not emanate from self-possessed privilege, nor is it established by political requisite or based upon legislative agency; the power of the sheriff is of and by the people.

Sheriffs’ are the only boots on the ground law enforcement agents that derive their authority from the people and not by political prerogative or by bureaucratic appointment. One would think that they would value and want to preserve such a unique circumstance, but in all too many instances such is not the case. Many sheriffs are more than willing to sell their souls to the establishment and to sample - as indentured handmaidens - what they believe to be a more rewarding circumstance as subordinate buddies of the bureaucratic agencies of an increasingly reprehensible political system. In short they are not interested in a preserving the Constitution or in the rights of the people, but rather in developing a misguided sense of their own importance. That they have become lackeys’ of a perverse political system rather than servants of the people seems to have escaped their consciousness.


Since I am acutely aware of the drastic slippage of integrity on the part of sheriffs’ on the local level I will recount happenings in my own state of which I am enormously ashamed.

In Iowa sheriffs’ are presently charged with the responsibility of the issuing of concealed weapons permits. Until two years ago such issuance was done at the sole discretion of the sheriff. During the last couple of legislative sessions two measures were introduced; first to enable a “shall issue” controlled carry mandate that was passed in greatly abridged measure, and secondly to establish a “constitutional carry” (aka unrestricted carry) privilege pursuant to the second amendment of the Constitution.


The constitutional carry measure was torpedoed and destroyed by legislative Democrat progressives who hate guns and individual rights, by a media that loves Democrat progressives who hate guns, by Republicans who promised support and then cowardly reneged because they feared a media that loves Democrat progressives who hate guns, and by sheriffs’ who felt that to be required to recognize the second amendment rights of their constituents deprived them of power and authority.

By virtue of their position sheriffs’ are allowed concealed carry privileges, so why would they wish to deny the same constitutional right to Joe or Jill Citizen, other than assert a bullying authority over the citizens of their county. Certainly their actions in this regard are no less destructive of individual freedom than the actions of the progressive dimwits who do hate guns, and their intentions are a good deal less honest.

The Iowa Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association lobbied intensely to maintain the status quo in regard to a discretionary issue of weapons permits. The members of that organization believed that they should have the right to arbitrarily deny such permits. Except for a handful of sheriffs’, who were wise heads and who weren’t going to let the association do their thinking for them, the vast majority of the sheriffs’ in the state adamantly opposed having to recognize the second amendment rights of the citizens within their counties. And dear reader such is the state of the Office of Sheriff in a great majority of the counties in the various states across the nation today, quite possibly in your own county.

Sadly, this propensity of sheriffs’ to ignore the oath - which they are required to make - to uphold the constitutions on both the state of federal level has become the norm rather than the exception. The Bill of Rights sets forth law that cannot be repealed or abridged by any power. This being the case one wonders at the audacity of state and local authorities - including sheriffs’ - who think that they have the power to negate the immutable laws set forth in the Constitution. If even one of these amendments falls, all will fall.

Indeed it is abundantly evident that the blatant and illegal circumvention of the second amendment has contributed to a serious weakening of the integrity of the entirety of the Bill of Rights. Currently we are witness to an ever increasing disdain and disregard - by the federal judiciary and the bureaucratic agencies of Homeland Security - for not only the second amendment, but also for the first, fourth, and fifth amendments’ as well.

It is a slippery slope that we tread when we allow federal, state, and local authorities to sidestep the constitutional laws that have made this country unique among nations. Make no mistake about it the first ten amendments to the Constitution identified as the Bill of Rights are absolute and immutable laws; they are not optional, they are not conditional, and they are not negotiable. They are foundational in regard to the preservation of individual liberties and they are perpetual in nature.


Currently I am hearing that the sheriff is the last bastion between the people and the liberty-stealing machinations of a now corrupt and unconstitutional federal system, oh really! It is my firm and fast opinion that in their present state of being the sheriffs’ offices in the nation are not defenders of constitutional freedoms, but rather have joined with the enemies in federal and state governments that rain tyranny upon the heads of the people.

If the sheriffs’ offices of this nation were to be filled with individuals such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona and the eight stalwart sheriffs’ from California and Oregon heretofore referred, the citizens of this nation would be in constitutionally capable hands, but such is not the case. It seems that a reliable indication of the high caliber of a sheriff is directly proportional to the number of ignorant socialist progressive enemies that the sheriff has attracted. This being the case it must be conceded that Sheriff Joe Arpaio is indeed a giant among sheriffs’. He is a template of what a sheriff ought to be. Truly the integrity of a man can be determined by the character of his enemies.


In 1976 the ninety-nine Iowa county sheriffs’ invited the state deputy sheriff’s association to amalgamate with that of the sheriffs’ under a new banner to be ever after referred to as the I.S.S.D.A. (Iowa State Sheriffs’ & Deputies’ Association) A short time later this marriage between the sheriffs’ and deputies’ helped to birth a new civil service law that was applicable to the totality of the deputy sheriffs’ throughout the state. Rather than draft an original approach to the new civil service law, statutes were copied and imported from the socialistic template of another state, and thus began the slide in regard to the autonomy of individual Iowa county sheriffs’ in regard to the affairs of their office.


In short order county sheriffs’ lost what little was left of their local identity when this new socialistic endeavor between sheriffs’ and deputies’ brought forth another dim-witted and stupidly thought out program of change. The legislature - at the behest of the I.S.S.D.A - put into place a law requiring that all enforcement personnel of the sheriffs’ offices throughout the state be required to wear the same uniform, mark their patrol vehicles in an identical manner, and procure all accoutrements of attire and car markings via a state contract.

Thus when you drive through the State of Iowa and pass from county to county you will note a bevy of good little sheriff clones all turned out like peas in a pod. Heaven forbid that there might be any display of individuality; a communistic bent militates against such individualistic deportment.

So much for the heretofore enviable independent status of the county sheriff; most municipal police agencies would give their eye teeth for such self-governing status, and sheriffs’ bartered it away for no good reason. It is difficult to discern such profound stupidity.


The destruction of the agency of the sheriff was monumental. Civil Service, coupled with public employee unions, wrested from the individual sheriffs the authority to hire, fire, or discipline subordinate employees. Civil Service Commissions now have that authority. Applicants are screened, tested, interviewed, and selected by civilian service commission committees, which assemble the lists of candidates from which sheriffs’ must hire to fill vacancies or positions.

Additionally it takes a near act of congress for a sheriff to be able to discipline or demote an uncontrollable or duty derelict subordinate. If after progressing successfully through a series of Civil Service hearings and maneuvers a sheriff is still not free to carry out his censor, dismissal, or demotion. He must then run the gauntlet of union grievance procedures that have the legislative blessings of the state. Such actions often take months and years and consume extraordinary amounts of taxpayer dollars.

Think not dear reader that the afore-described particulars are confined to any particular state; they are in fact a present pain in the behind in most of the states with provisions for the Office of Sheriff. One can almost understand why some sheriffs’ shirk their sworn responsibilities. Remember now, I said almost as there is never an excuse for a relinquishing of integrity or for a deliberate deviation from what is right and proper.

The sheriff’s office is too important to be handed over to a collection of nincompoops who in all probability would not make good dog catchers. And this is not to disparage dog catchers as many of these I believe would be a notch above quite a number of those who presently hold the Office of Sheriff.


To the sheriffs’ who read this column: Those of you who are dedicated and conscientious constitutional sheriffs’ please ignore the forgoing in regard to worthless sheriffs’ and be aware of the pitfalls leading to destruction that I have heretofore enumerated; and for those of you who are coasting along as toadies of the system, get the hell out of the business and let a good sheriff take the reins.

And to you dear readers, hold your sheriff’s feet to the fire in regard to the enablement and protection of your liberties and constitutional perquisites. Throw out the bums and cronies and replace them with ethical God-fearing and constitutionally correct persons of unquestionable integrity.

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Stand with honorable sheriffs’ against misguided and politically motivated legislative assaults upon their office. Do what is necessary to remove the office of sheriff from the political realm and the pernicious affliction of a forced inclusion in the unholy intrigues of the two national political parties. Remember that sheriffs’ represent the people and not the biased wishes and dictates of either of the national political parties. The office must be independent except as to the wishes of the people.

The sheriff is the principal peace officer in your county. Stand with the good and get rid of the bad. Make that a commitment and encourage your neighbors to do the same. You will never regret it.

God bless and God speed.

� 2011 - 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 constitutional carry measure was torpedoed and destroyed by legislative Democrat progressives who hate guns and individual rights, by a media that loves Democrat progressives who hate guns, by Republicans who promised support and then cowardly reneged...