California’s Elected Sheriffs Are Accountable to No One—And That’s a Problem

Rooted in Archaic British Laws, County Law Enforcement Is Plagued by Scandals

The county sheriff is the problem child among California elected officials. No office is less accountable, or more reliable in producing scandal.

Once elected, sheriffs in all 58 counties have power over jails and policing, and act pretty much as they please. When sheriffs do wrong, there is little that Californians can do to stop them. Under our state’s structure, a sheriff in California can’t really be fired. And those most liable to complain about a sheriff—inmates and those accused of crimes—have trouble gaining the public’s ear, let alone its sympathy.

You …

Why Sheriff Joe Has Wyatt Earp in His Posse

You Like Things By the Book? Then Don’t Be Sheriff in the West

In November 2010, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, created an armed “immigration posse” to interdict suspects. Its members included Hollywood action-movie figures such as Steven Segal and Lou …