Sheriffs: Who Needs ‘Em?

Yesterday my email box was flooded with questions about sheriff’s offices. Why the sudden interest? I haven’t a clue, but the questions were mostly related to sheriff’s offices in Alaska and how they operate. The answers to those questions are quite simple, because there are no sheriff’s offices in Alaska. In fact, two other states, Hawaii and Connecticut, also function without a sheriff at the helm of county law enforcement.

Alaska doesn’t have sheriff’s offices because the state doesn’t have county governments.

King Cove Alaska Police Department

Connecticut simply grew weary of its county sheriffs and changed the state constitution, eliminating the office entirely. In its place they established a state marshal system, which basically serves the same function, but without a sheriff at the top of the chain. Now, instead of having an elected official in charge (county government has no control over an elected official) the department is run by the State Marshal Commission. The commission also hires and fires all marshals.

What are the qualifications to be a Connecticut State Marshal? Here’s what the commission says:

Marshals must be an elector in the county where the vacancy exists, speak/write/read English, have resided in Connecticut at least one year, be 21 years old, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, be free of any mental or emotional disorder that may adversely affect performance, be of good moral character, hold a valid Connecticut drivers license, not be convicted of a felony, not be convicted of certain misdemeanors within five years prior to appointment, pass a written exam, complete required training, provide a $10,000 bond, and provide evidence of personal liability insurance.

How much does a state marshal earn? Well, according to one news report (, John T. Fiorillo, a state marshal, earned more than ten times the salary of the state’s governor. In fact, Fiorillo raked in over two-million dollars serving foreclosure papers (for private firms) to people losing their homes during the economic downturn.

Wow, this system sounds much better than having a sheriff’s office…

And, then there’s Hawaii, another state without sheriffs, but they still employee deputy sheriffs who serve in the Sheriff’s Division of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

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Paul Beecroft: Extract From An English Notebook

My friend, Paul Beecroft, has spent a good deal of his life in law enforcement, in England. He’s worked Foot Patrol, Area Car, Instant Response Car and also as a Police Motorcyclist. He’s currently a coroner’s investigator and has traveled all over England, Wales, Scotland and even Germany to investigate crimes.

Paul is an avid falconer, and he’s a pretty darn good writer. Today he’s taken another page from one of his own notebooks to share with us. Please enjoy.


Frost covers the land

Minus 6

7.15 am

Christmas Day


8 – 4 shift

De-ice the windscreen

Travel to work

Roads empty

Ice covered


Arrive at Station

No one else

Skeleton staff

No pending jobs

Merry Christmas from Control Room Staff

Police vehicle

Travel home

Live on area

Hot coffee

Cooked breakfast

Open presents

Excited kids

10.15 am

“Echo Charlie One One over”

“Go ahead over”

“Sorry about this, can you attend Kings Hill, one vehicle T.A. (Traffic Accident), car overturned, not known if injury”.

“Yes on my way over”.

Roads still bad, very icy

Very little traffic as I make my way

Headlamp flash from oncoming car

A warning of something ahead.

Car sideways across road

Two occupants, standing to the side of it.

Husband and wife on their way to see relatives

Not injured but very shaken

“What happened?”

“We came over the brow back there”

“The car just went sideways and we just started rolling over and over”.

“Since we have been here other cars have lost control, it’s the ice”.

“You sure you are both okay”

“Yes, yes, just a bit shaken up”.

“I can well imagine you are”.

“Let me call this in and then get some help”.

“Echo Charlie One One over”

“Go ahead over”.

“Yes, first of all can you call the Council, I need the road gritting urgently”

“Yes understood”

“Secondly, can you call the relatives of…………………….







Over and over

Closer and closer


Slow motion



Husband and Wife


Final roll

On its wheels


No more than six inches from the front of my car

Exactly where we had been standing

Two occupants

Another married couple


Presents scattered all around inside the car

Wrench open a door

“Everyone OK?”

“I think so”

“Stay here, I will be back in a minute”

Police car

Drive to brow of hill

Park in middle of road

Blue light on

Traffic should slow now

Return to crashed vehicles

Control Room informed of situation.

Both couples chatting

No one killed

No one injured


Both cars scratched and dented

Both driveable

They are ready to leave

Warned re possible shock setting in and to look after each other

“Thanks Officer and Merry Christmas”

“And to you”

Now alone

Waiting for the Gritter

God it’s cold………..but thank you.

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from The Graveyard Shift!

* We’re visiting family during the holidays. We’ll return on Monday, December 28, 2009.

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A Cop’s Christmas Eve: Page 250 Of My Spiral Notebooks

Candies, cakes, and eggnog.

Turkey, ham, and stuffing.

Pumpkin pie

My favorite.

Family, friends, and sleeping dog on hearth.

Fireplace crackles

Cedar logs sizzle.

Cookies and milk.

Laughter, giggles, and squeals.

Stockings, gifts, and dreams.


Wish I was there.

Pepper spray, handcuffs, and puking drunks.

Radios, shotguns, and Tasers.

Spouses abused

Not their fault.

Dealers, robbers, and sad, pitiful kids.

Crack pipes burning.

No place to sleep.

No food, no heat.

Crying, bleeding, and dying.

Ambulances, hospitals, and morgues.


Glad I have one.

Aren’t you?

*Please remember the many police officers, firemen, rescue workers, and all others who work to keep us safe during the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

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