The Office of Sheriff is a long established office in Delaware that has its roots in Delaware’s Constitution.
Article XV Section 1 states:
The chancellor, Judges and Attorney General shall be conservators of the peace throughout the state, and the Sheriffs shall be conservators of the peace within the counties respectively in which they reside.
Although Delaware does not have an Inspector General, there should be a movement to create this elected position. Most states do have this position as a safeguard against corruption in their states.
The Sheriff’s Office was the only law enforcement entity in each county until the state police was created by Delaware in the 1920’s with a charter which stated, the Delaware State Police would have powers similar to those of the Sheriffs. In short both of these offices are elected by the people and for the people and are not controlled by the state. An elected Inspector General and a Sheriff are in fact the guardians of the citizen’s Constitutional rights. Without either of these operating as fully functional offices, the citizens are at the mercy of the state and Delaware is a, “de facto” police state, with no recourse for the citizens to redress their grievances.
It is evident, because of a long-standing record of corruption, Delaware is in need of an elected Inspector General. This office could investigate corruption independently at both the state and county levels and would have power to call on the Sheriffs of each county for support and back-up.
Currently, the State of Delaware and the counties investigate their own alleged wrongdoings within their own agencies. This practice is similar to appointing a fox to watch the henhouse and lends an air of corruption to everything it touches.
Madison fully understood that government needed checks and balances and warned of the danger by writing about this in Federalist Paper No. 51:
The need for government flows from the fact that all men are fallen creatures with a sinful nature. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature. If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.
It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.
There are but two methods of providing against this evil: the one by creating a will in the community independent of the majority, that is, of society itself; the other, by comprehending in the society so many separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not impracticable.
So we can see that Madison foresaw that safeguards were to be a necessity if the republic were to be preserved. He knew the nature of man and he also knew that absolute power would corrupt absolutely. In today’s society we have two easy safeguards against the absolute power of the state, and they are the offices of the Sheriff and the Inspector General. In Delaware, we have no Inspector General so the office of the Sheriff is critically important. This Sheriff we write of, should be endowed as conservator of the peace, with full police powers as guardian of the citizen’s constitutional rights.
As you have seen lately the state General Assembly certainly will not guard our Constitutional rights. They pass legislation that infringes on our Second Amendment right to bear arms, and the Speaker of the House, “Pistol Pete” Schwartzkopf passed statutory legislation that violated our Sheriff’s right to be the “Conservator of the Peace,” in the county within which he resides, with full police powers as the Constitution indicates.
If we are to remain a free state belonging to a free republic we must speak up and make ourselves heard. We now fight a much different fight to remain a free state and we must adjust and prevail.