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Letter to the editor

Reader questions ‘special deputy’

Letter to the Editor:

After reading an article a couple of weeks ago about Marion County Sheriff Deputy Ross Mayfield, who resides in California, I feel compelled to ask some questions about the legalities and liabilities that go along with such an arrangement.

As a Marion County resident and taxpayer, I am concerned. And, as a person who was involved in law enforcement from 1984 to 2004, I have some knowledge of what can happen that could result in a lawsuit against the sheriff, our commissioners, and Marion County as a whole.

Thus I ask these questions.

Question of authority: Is Mayfield a commissioned law enforcement officer? If so, is he commissioned by the State of Kansas? And if so, is his annual 40 hours of law enforcement training and weapons qualification current so he can retain that commission year after year?

Question of jurisdiction: Is Mayfield a full-time deputy or a part-time deputy in Marion County? If part-time, does he really have any jurisdiction outside of Marion County? Does he know and understand and has he received training in regards to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department policy manual? If not, Mayfield, the sheriff, our commissioners, and all of Marion County could be held liable for any negligence and open to lawsuits.

Question of liability: When Mayfield helps another agency and notifies the Marion County dispatcher that he is “on duty,” who is paying him? Who is responsible for workers’ compensation should he be hurt while “10-8” in another state but “recorded on log” in Marion County? Is Marion County’s insurance provider going to be held responsible for any injuries or repairs if Mayfield should be involved in a vehicle accident while driving to or from a job in another state, but “on the log” in Marion County? And worse yet, what if a death is involved?

Comment: Especially in law enforcement, it’s nice to have “experts” whom you can call and request their help. However, giving someone a shoulder patch and a badge does not make them commissioned law enforcement officers. In fact, it creates a lot more potential legal problems than the few I’ve listed above.

In today’s “sue happy” society, elected officials, be they city council members, county commissioners, or a sheriff, must understand the possible repercussions of their actions and decisions. There is a saying prevalent in law enforcement: “If you haven’t been sued yet, just stick around a little longer.” No sheriff needs more liabilities than already comes with the office. And, maybe here in Marion County, we haven’t been so affected with frivolous lawsuits as in other areas.

Then again, we don’t reside near L.A. either, do we?

Hank Shockley

Marion

Last modified Oct. 8, 2008

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