Local Lawmakers Would Make Sheriffs Ultimate Authority


A bill sponsored by Rim Country’s state legislative delegation that would have required federal law enforcement personnel to register with local sheriffs and turn over half of their fines to the counties has died in committee.

Senate Bill 1093 would have invoked provisions of the state and federal constitutions to make county sheriffs the ultimate law enforcement authority in each county.

Sponsors included all three of Rim Country’s representatives — Rep. Brenda Barton (R-Payson), Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) and Sen. Chester Crandell (R-Heber).

The measure would have required any federal agency doing business or enforcing laws or regulations in the county to register with the local sheriff and present a warrant “compliant with the Fourth Amendment” of the U.S. Constitution — which bars unreasonable searches and seizures.

The law would have also essentially seized half of any federal fees, fines and penalties and put them in the state’s general fund.

The law represented an effort to write into state law a movement that insists county sheriffs have a constitutional position superior to the federal government — so they don’t have to adhere to federal law if they think that law is in conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

The issue bobbed to the surface locally several months ago when several county sheriffs said they would refuse to enforce a proposed Forest Service regulation that would have cited and removed hunters’ trailers left in the woods for more than 14 days — the normal limit for camping on Forest Service land. The Forest Service later said the threatened enforcement of the limit in hunters’ camps was a misunderstanding.

The Senate Rules Committee voted against the bill 2-4, effectively killing it. The committee’s attorney said the bill would probably violate the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives federal laws priority over conflicting state laws.

The committee also killed SB 1290, by Sen. Judy Burges (R-Sun City West), which would have given county sheriffs the power to refuse to allow federal agents permission to make arrests or searches.


Mel Mevis 2 years, 10 months ago

Really ...... More proposed legislation that is founded on a flawed interpenetration of case law and the Constitution.

After spending several hours reading case law and the positions of people espousing the concept of "Constitutional Sheriffs" it is evident they are stretching truth and trying to fit personal held beliefs into a context that just does not quite fit (square peg in a round hole).

Trying to pass legislation like this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. I hate to use the word stupid laws, but it fits.

We need to address real Rim Country issues ..... Employment, wildfire, forest thinning, roads, water, education ...... these are the real issues, not made-up problems.


H. Wm. Rhea III 2 years, 10 months ago

I understand the desire to codify this, but it is my understanding that the elected sheriff is already the top law enforcement official in their respective counties. I think the problem is that many of them don't see a need to enforce their authority and some don't care. However, I do think that Federal officers need to report to local authority and realize that the sheriff is the top law enforcement officer and the ultimate authority.


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