I think Sheriff John Hanlin is wrong to be depicted in political literature telling us how to vote while wearing the uniform. The sheriff’s office belongs to all of us, those who may vote yes on the proposed Home Rule Charter, those who may vote no and those who may not vote at all.
I’m surprised there isn’t a law prohibiting using his public office for political purposes. Regardless, Douglas County residents say they place a high premium on individual responsibility. I would like to see our sheriff hold himself to that higher standard. Of course, John Hanlin enjoys the right we all do to say whatever he wants on any issue -- just not on the public’s time and wearing the public’s uniform.
Political literature supporting of one side of this measure discusses issues that are hardly within the sheriff’s domain. What it says is highly debatable and even downright wrong. I’m not sure whether Hanlin -- professionally or personally -- is qualified to judge whether Home Rule is “extreme,” would make governance more opaque than the current commissioners do, reduce private employment or advance environmentalism. Reasonable people may differ on these matters, but Sheriff Hanlin is expert on none.
It would be reasonable to ask the sheriff what affect the new charter would have on his official duties. However, he has now compromised his professional objectivity.
The sheriff’s office receives 100 percent of the property tax going to the county government, as well as more from other sources. Better Sheriff Hanlin should focus on protecting our safety economically and efficiently that we pay for, and stop playing politics. He’s wrong to use the public’s office and uniform in this way.