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The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


PIPD Chief Irwin

Advocates for County Police Force


What’s Old is New Again




By:  David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal

March 1, 2017


   Last month, Presque Isle Police Department Chief Matt Irwin suggested in a front page Star Herald article that municipalities may have to look toward a county-based police force in the future as a cost-savings method of policing over the duplicative services provided by the local municipal police departments.

   I sent an E-mail to Chief Irwin in support of his idea but only if it was modeled under the currently existing infrastructure of the elected County Sheriff.

   I told him that I first support the concept of a County Sheriff-based police force for its direct accountability to the voters and that his position of cost savings by reducing duplicate services is also worthy of future discussion.

  The Star Herald article described the idea as potentially “pie-in-the-sky” at which point I noted to Chief Irwin the concept of a County Sheriff-based police force is how our law enforcement system was originally formed in the U.S.  In the Laws of Maine 1821, the year Maine became a state,there is provision for a County Sheriff but no mention of  Municipal or State Police organizations.

   Chief Irwin, who had spent 27 years of his law enforcement career working for an elected County Sheriff responded to my E-mail to let me know  he understands completely how a Sheriff must be responsive to the community he/she serves.He also said he understands the politics of the constitutional position versus a municipal police department and agrees the best location for a “regional police force” rests with the county Sheriff.  As for the “pie-in-the-sky” comment, Chief Irwin clarified, “The ‘pie-in-the-sky’ comment you refer to was intended to characterize the realistic chances of this sort of transition occurring in the County any time soon rather than what you may have interpreted it to be as the applicability or practicality of the concept’s merits or chances for successful implementation.”

   What follows is my own historical research and analysis of Maine law enforcement and is not intended to reflect Chief Irwin’s position.


The County Sheriff

    When our country was founded, the power base was with “We the People.”  We are all the supreme law enforcers of the land.  Because we all have our own businesses or jobs to engage in and our own family lives, we don’t necessarily always have the time or ability to enforce the laws we have enacted through our legislators.  Because of this fact, we elect one of our own to represent us to the civil community, and protect our property and God-given rights from any who would infringe upon them.  This person holds a divinely-established position and exercises God-ordained power and authority over all who do evil (see Romans 13:1-4).  This elected official is the county sheriff.  Under our current system of government, State and local police hold a lesser duty to the people than the sheriff.  They exist first to protect and serve the governmental body that established them and to raise money for them, as well.

   The county sheriff is the Supreme Law enforcement officer of the County in which he/she was elected. While that role has been marginalized in the public mindset over the past 100 years, it is important to remember that as the only elected law enforcement officer, the county sheriff’s power pre-dates and exceeds that of municipal police, state police and any federal agent of the U.S. government.  At the end of the day, it is the county sheriff who is charged to protect the citizenry from rogue actors both outside of government as well as inside.

   “It is the sworn duty of the sheriff to obey and uphold the Constitution and to protect the property and rights of the freeborn, sovereign American individuals of the County.  County Sheriffs must be advised of the instances where unlawful acts of officials or agencies of government are committed.  It is the duty of the Sheriff to protect the local citizens from such unlawful acts, even when they are committed ‘under color of law’.  There is no lawful authority for judges and the courts to direct the law enforcement activities of a county sheriff.  The sheriff is accountable and responsible only to the people who are inhabitants of his county.  He is under oath of office, and need not receive unlawful orders from judges or courts.  He is responsible to protect his constituents, even from unlawful acts of officials of government.  He should not allow his office to be used as an unlawful ‘lackey’ of the courts or federal agents or agencies.” - Our American Common Law, Delta Spectrum Research

   The county sheriff employs deputies to assist him in the above mentioned duties assigned to him.  However, should a disaster strike the community which the current workforce of deputies and public safety officials can not handle on their own, the county sheriff may call upon volunteers from his constituents to assist him.  These volunteers are known generically as Posse Comitatus (Latin: “capable companions”) or more commonly known as the militia.  While its name has been tarnished by the mainstream media over the years, the militia is simply the name of the group of volunteers who would band together to assist the sheriff, as well as their neighbor, in times of great need.  In most states, the militia is organized under the respective state’s State Guard units.  The State Guard is a state-owned and accountable version of the U.S. government’s “National Guard” which is a federal entity merely on loan to the states they are stationed in.


Maine State Police

   It is generally believed that the semi-military Texas Rangers, established in 1835 to patrol the Mexican American border were the first “state police” to be formed in America, though Texas was not actually a state, yet.

   Originally set up in Maine by Governor Garcelon in 1879 to protect the office of governor during a vote scam incident, the first Maine state police force was composed of about 100 men.  These men were referred to as “state police,” but there was no legal authority for such a force.  It was later discovered that the group  had no civilian or military status and contained at least eleven men who had previously served time in county jails, with one pardoned by the governor from state prison.  It was planned to equip them with arms and ammunition from the Bangor arsenal in order to protect Garcelon from local militias and even the Augusta Capitol Police, since he was seen as stealing the election. (see Joshua Chamberlain, ©1999 John J. Pullen)

   Maine adopted its current State Police force in the early 1930’s.  The Maine State Police was originally empowered primarily to patrol the State’s highways and enforce motor vehicle and horse drawn carriage laws.  But they were also endowed with the same arrest powers as the County Sheriffs (see Revised Statutes of Maine 1944, Vol. 1, pp.196-197).


A Push Toward Municipal Police

   It was around the mid 1800’s at the dawn of the temperance movement (alcohol prohibition) that a movement was taking place to marginalize the County Sheriffs of all the states and either replace or subvert them to an unelected municipal police force that is only beholden to the state legislature, not the people.

   On April 5, 1863 attorney, Wendell Phillips advocated for a municipal—or “metropolitan” police—to subvert the role of the duly elected county sheriff in a speech he made before the Twenty-eighth Congregational Society at the Melodeon, Boston.

   Phillips suggested that in order to enforce unpopular alcohol prohibition laws it was necessary to create a police force not beholden to the voters—a municipal/metropolitan police. It seems that some Sheriffs in the “wet” counties were unwilling to go against their constituents’ wishes and chose not to enforce an unpopular anti-alcohol state law.

   During his speech, Phillips said,


“...Indeed, great cities are nests of great vices, and it has been the experience of republics that great cities are an exception to the common rule of self-governed communities.Neither New York, nor New Orleans, nor Baltimore -none of the great cities - has found the ballot box of its individual voters a sufficient protection, through a police organization. Great cities cannot be protected on the theory of republican institutions. We may like it or not, - seventy years have tried the experiment, and, so far, it is a failure; and if there is no resource outside of the city limits, then a self-governed great city is, so far as my experience goes, the most uncomfortable which any man who loves free speech can live in.It is no surprise, therefore, that we ask you no longer to let the police force represent the voters of Boston. Hitherto, the police regulations in the city of Boston have been modeled on those of a small town; that is, the inhabitant themselves have called into existence a body of constables, in fact, to execute the laws of the State and the by-laws of the city.Our text, in presenting this subject to you, is this:in Boston, as everywhere else, where large numbers are brought together and great masses of property are found, a police force appointed by the voters of the place cannot be relied on to execute the laws; and, in order to secure their full and impartial execution, it has been found necessary elsewhere, and I shall attempt to show you that it is necessary here, to put the control of the police force into other hands than those of the voters of the place. That is our claim, - that the men of the peninsula, like those of other great cities, are not to be trusted with the execution of the State laws, but that executive power must be based on broader foundations.Such a course is no uncommon machinery in democratic institutions...”  (emphasis added, speech excerpted from Speeches, Lectures and Letters by Wendell Phillips, 1864, pp.  495-496.  For my detractors who think I’m a kook making this stuff up, I apologize, I have the original hard copy of the book just cited. So, those detractors will have to find something else to whine about.)


   So, in the words of a metropolitan police advocate, we find the elected county sheriff can’t be trusted and the power of law enforcement must be put into the hands of the government—not the people—thus eliminating a check against the enforcement of bad laws.  It was this mindset that at once marginalized the role of county sheriff by making the people beholden to a new set of law enforcement officers and caused them to begin funding two separate police forces with duplicative services.  You see, a portion of the property taxes paid in a town or city not only goes to support their own municipal police force (if they have one) but the towns and cities also have to pay some of those tax receipts as a County tax, part of which is still used to fund and equip the County Sheriff office—the original law enforcement office.


Municipal Police today

   Today’s police are not to be confused with the county sheriff, rather they are in effect a standing army at the state and local levels.

    A standing army consists of a body of men and women who are armed and trained by a governing body to do its bidding and enforce its desires on the people who serve it. The police today at the state and local level are nothing more than a standing army which does the will of the state legislature, as opposed to a sheriff who abides by the will of the people.   Police are led by un-elected bureaucrats known as police chiefs that are not beholden to the citizenry they serve, but rather, their respective town or city councils and state legislatures.  

   Since all municipalities, towns and cities today are incorporated (as businesses), all of the stores located within that corporation’s boundaries are like the stores located within a shopping mall.  Like mall security, police officers enforce the laws of the corporation upon the shoppers (citizenry) as they attempt to go about their daily lives.  Unlike mall security, police officers demand the citizenry to present “their papers” upon request to verify if they are legally able to travel about their “mall”.  Police officers are also armed with an increasing array of weapons to enforce the corporation’s rules with threat of deadly force.

   “Municipal police forces vary in size from twenty or thirty patrolmen in cities of from ten to thirty thousand up to small armies of about 5,000 in Philadelphia, over 6,600 in Chicago, and over 18,500 in New York.  Although legally officers of the state, and largely occupied with the enforcement of state laws, the police are practically everywhere organized, appointed, paid, and controlled by municipal authorities.” - Ogg & Ray, Introduction to American Government, © 1931, pp 952 - 953.


   In spirit and intent, Chief Irwin and I are both in agreement on the need to consolidate police forces in Maine.  He argues from a budgetary position as our Aroostook County continues to see population decline and municipalities are being called upon to do more with less.  My position, of course, is that of accountability via a popularly elected Sheriff acting as the “chief” of police in the County with no duplication of services via an unelected municipal police force that is only beholden to the legislature.

   In his E-mail to me, Chief Irwin explained, “There are many barriers in the communities within the County which work against this concept in making an easy change…it will take time, interest, and commitment from all governments within the County, which currently seems like a mighty tall order to me.”  He also said we could be “re-examining how the cost of law enforcement services could be spread across the entire county tax base and if applicable, determining which laws concerning municipal governments may need to be amended to accommodate such a transition.”



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