Sussex sheriff responds to Flood column

August 26, 2014

In a recent column in the Cape Gazette, Mr. Don Flood reported that I have claimed the office of sheriff to be more than what it is. I ask you, what do you believe a "Conservator of the Peace" is? According to the Delaware Constitution Article 15, Section 1, it defines the role that the sheriff should be playing in the judicial system in Delaware.

Why did the Delaware legislators in 1925, under Title 11 Section 8302 define the Delaware State Police as "Conservators of the Peace" and compare that agency's commission to the police powers of the sheriff, constables and other police? Simple, the legislators knew and did not question the authority vested into that office by the Constitution and by Delawareans then, so why now do they?

Most of Delaware's town police agencies in fact, are also defined in the same way in their respective town charters. Why? Because it is what it purports to be. One who conserves the public peace and a law enforcement agency. Title 11 Section 222 defined the sheriff as a law enforcement agency as well untill HB 325 was presented and forced through by New Castle County representatives. Recent politics and politically correct persuasions right here in Sussex County are attempting to stop the state Constitution from defining your sheriff and his correct role as written and enumerated by our founding fathers.

What with all the burglaries and home invasions occurring throughout the county, it would seem that we need as many eyes as we can get to be watchful in law enforcement. Deputies can assist now and then where they can. That's all I have ever asked of the council. The whole definition of closer government, right?

In the column dated Aug. 19, Mr. Don Flood said that Deputy Torres was fired due to overwhelming evidence. One would have to consider a tainted committee/panel, hand-selected by members of the county council, who had Deputy Torres guilty before he even entered the room.

Your sheriff is elected and trusted by the people to run that office, wouldn't you agree? Well currently it is not. County council continues to attempt to set policy and control most aspects of that office and its functions, particularly the staffing who should answer to the sheriff.

I asked Mr.Todd Lawson (county administrator) once, what was his duty as the administrator and he stated "to serve the elected officials." I asked if that included the sheriff and he stated "no." The county fired Deputy Torres without even so much as notifying the sheriff of their intent, in violation of county policy, and as an example of the bully tactics used here in Sussex County's administration.

Statements made for instance, by County Councilman Sam Wilson that "We don't need any Spanish speaking deputies" would certainly indicate that at least a portion of county council intended to rid Torres as an employee simply because he obeyed his orders and supported my Constitutional stance.

Torres was an excellent and dedicated employee. What is the purpose for electing a sheriff if he cannot run the office for which he was elected?

Further regarding the overtime issue for Deputy Torres mentioned by Mr. Flood, the testimony given clearly justified the overtime as it was made up of Family Court after hours duties. The county itself requesting Deputy Torres to interpret for Spanish speaking citizens doing business at other county offices located at The Circle, and even times when he was summoned by the Delaware State Police to assist in cases involving Spanish-speaking families involved in accidents and domestic situations such as child abuse and other family matters needing details interpreted accurately and concisely for the DSP investigators to function. If the truth interests you, that is it.

I would offer that these attempts by the county council to control your elected office of sheriff are wrong and egregious and take the control out of the hands of the sheriff, and thus the people. As for this notion of a county police, I have repeatedly stated that I have no intention of creating a county police and never will.

I simply believe that the current small Office of Sheriff can do so much more to assist in warrant service from a monstrous list of wanted persons in Delaware, crime prevention and child and senior safety. But Mr. Don Flood, and some others want to frighten you in an attempt to convince you into voting for the opponent. My opponent, by his own admission, a yes man, would be controlled by the county council with little to no allegiance to the people. You simply cannot serve two masters.

Remember that is the type of administration that was defeated in the Office of Sheriff in 2010. If I am re-elected, I shall remain committed to a fiscally responsible and conservative philosophy. I have, thus far, generated just under $12 million during my tenure as your sheriff, and that's proof!

I have stated that I will stand up and fight for your rights and liberties. I am not bought, nor am I owned by politics or politicians, and that makes the establishment angry because they cannot control me. Which is why Mr. Flood feels it necessary to write columns in attempt to discredit me.

Lastly, as for the debate with my opponents, I feel that every citizen deserves to hear what a candidate will do for the people, or say to reveal their intent for the office and thus far, my opponents have refused to debate me. Could it be they cannot defend their philosophy for the office?

I have stated all along that I will debate them any time or any place. I am firm in my convictions and dedication to the people of this county. I believe the people deserve an open, honest sheriff candidate having nothing to hide from the people whose trust he is asking.

Jeff Christopher
Sussex Sheriff

  • A letter to the editor expresses a reader's opinion and, as such, is not reflective of the editorial opinions of this newspaper.

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