TOPEKA, (KSNT)- Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden is responding to backlash over a misleading Facebook post issued by his office.
The post stated that “voting no” on a ballot amendment would take away the right to elect local sheriffs.
“I don’t think we did a great job illustrating the whole issue, but it’s a complicated issue… Everyday, I’m getting calls up here saying what does this mean,” Hayden told Kansas Capitol Bureau in an interview Friday.
For some, the post stirred further confusion surrounding, HCR 5022, an amendment on the ballot that deals with how sheriffs are elected and who has the power to oust them.
Right now, state law already establishes the right to elect sheriffs. The amendment would require that sheriffs are elected, making it harder to abolish the office.
However, contrary to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office’s post, it wouldn’t take away the right to elect sheriffs.
“If this amendment doesn’t pass, we’re still going to be elected, but that can be taken away under the right circumstances,” Hayden explained.
Currently, there are several ways that a Sheriff can be removed from office. That includes through public vote, by the attorney general, or by local prosecutors.
Hayden said “consolidation” can also play a role in removing a Sheriff.
Right now, Riley County is the only county in the state without a Sheriff.
The county consolidated with the City of Manhattan to have one law enforcement agency— Riley County Police.
In the state’s other 104 counties, sheriffs are elected by the county’s residents.
A ‘yes’ vote on the amendment means other counties would not be able to eliminate or completely merge their sheriff’s office with another law enforcement agency – like a local police department. If the amendment passes, it would also prevent local prosecutors from ousting a sheriff.
A ‘no’ vote means county leaders would be able to completely consolidate their law enforcement agency – or get rid of their sheriff’s office all together.
“Any time you lose the right to have an elected person represent you, it removes a lot of accountability, and it takes a little piece of democracy from our voters,” Sheriff Hayden said. “So, the consolidation is not always a good thing.”
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