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08/18/2010

My Opinion Sometimes Gets Me in Trouble

The Sheriff's Opinion, For What its Worth...

 

     I am often asked what I think or feel about different issues. Sometimes it's a national issue and sometimes it's a local one. Sometimes I think I get asked so the person can disagree or start an argument. I have always felt if you don't want my opinion, don't ask.

     We all have an opinion and in most cases we all are pretty strong in our opinions to the point very few have an open mind as to someone else's opinion. With that in mind it is probably crazy on my part to share some of my thoughts, feelings, beliefs and opinions. I am sure there will be readers who will disagree with my thoughts, and will have different opinions. This is not meant to change anyone's mind or to try and ‘force' my opinions or beliefs on anyone.

1. I feel if you ‘do the crime' then you should ‘do the time'.

 There has to be repercussions when you break the law. Patting someone on the hand and telling them they shouldn't do that again, does not work in my opinion. There are only two reasons people obey the law, because they feel they morally should, or because they are afraid of getting caught. Case in point is why do people obey the speed limit? Why do people automatically hit the brake when they see a cop? Take away the fear of getting caught and there will be those will speed.

2. I believe everyone should be treated the same.

To me it doesn't matter who you are, when you break the law. I have made it very clear to our officers that the citation or arrest should be based upon the circumstances and evidence, not who the person is.  When someone is arrested, I feel everyone should be treated the same. If there is a bond, everyone should have to post that bond to be released from jail. Just because you have money or stature in the community shouldn't make any difference.  And before someone starts quoting the law to me, again, this is my opinion.

Our website displays the inmate roster.  The system is designed to update itself automatically every 10 minutes.  This means that everyone who is booked into our jail appears on our website.  No one can keep a person's name or picture off the website. Everyone gets treated the same.  Fear again, I believe, is a deterrent.  I have heard from dozens of people who have either said themselves or heard others say they would not have that last drink for fear of ending up on the Sheriff's Website. 

3. I think if the law specifies a punishment, it should be carried out.

An example is the law concerning someone convicted of driving on a license suspended due to a conviction of DWI. The law says, and I quote, ‘any person whose privilege to operate a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked, who operates a motor vehicle in this state during the period of suspension or revocation, shall be imprisoned for ten (ten) days. Not might be, could be, up to, but SHALL.   I have been in the law enforcement business for the past 20 years and I have rarely if ever seen anyone sent to jail for 10 days. The jail time is usually suspended. I believe that if people really knew they were going to jail, most would not drive. The fear of potentially losing their job. Statistics overwhelming support that the best deterrent for Drinking and Driving is strict enforcement of the law.  Again, the fear of getting caught.

We have inmates complaining about our jail menu.  They dont like being served beans and cornbread 365 days a years.  This is not the Holiday Inn.  Its not suppose to be pleasant.  Its punishment.  The answer is very simple.  Don't break the law and you wont end up in jail. 

It is also my belief that a person should not be allowed to have their felony convictions expunged or erased so easily.  Up until a couple of years ago, we rarely would see an application granted and usually that was because they had gone for 15 or 20 years without any more violations of the law.  But.now we are being flooded with court orders to seal or expunge their records. Serious high level felony convictions are being erased as though they never occurred. Many times the person has multiple convictions and is continuing to break the law while an earlier conviction is sealed.  There have even been cases where the person was arrested numerous times for violating the their probation on the original charge that they are having sealed. This, in my opinion is outrageous and flat out wrong.

4. I think we need to secure our borders, both with Mexico as well as Canada.

We need to put whatever resources are necessary to keep them secure. If people want to come into the United States, let them do it legally. Our ancestors came to this Great Country legally. They worked hard and got their citizenship. I also think State and Local Law Enforcement should be able to take action when they find someone in this Country illegally. Now, having said that, I also want to say we have to be smart about it. If ‘we' start taking them into custody, where do we put them? The jails and prisons are already overcrowded. So where do we put them...For example, the latest numbers I heard were that the US deported about 400,000 people last year. Not even close to the actually estimated number of illegal residents here. So, which 400,000 do we arrest and deport  this year? The ones that commit crime or the ones who hang drywall or pick crops??? Just food for thought.

In my opinion the answer is to shut off the demand. If you made the consequences so harsh to those who hire illegal immigrants, they would be afraid to hire them. No demand, means no reason for the supply. Again, there has to be fear of getting caught.

5. I believe one of the main reasons this Country is in the shape its in is because of ‘party politics'.

It's the Republicans vs. the Democrats. Look how many votes go down party lines. Its not what's best for the Country, but what's best for the party. Its time we started ‘doing the right thing'.

I had a friend who would always tell me I was doing a great job. He hoped I would be Sheriff for a long time; however, he made it clear to me and others that he would never be able to vote for me because of my party affiliation.

When are we all going to learn the just because someone has an R or a D beside their name does not make them a good or bad person. It doesn't mean they are automatically going to do a good job. We need to start putting good people in office. There is a book written by Author Jim Collins, called ‘From Good to Great'. Basically the author points out that you need to get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off. It doesn't matter who or what they do, but if you get the right people on the bus, they will figure out where to drive the bus to.  In other words, how to make a company go from a good company to a great company. I think the same holds for our Country. We need to stop blaming the other party. I believe there is enough blame to go around.   If we stop playing politics and get the right people in office, they will figure it out and get this Country back on track.

6. I think people should take responsibility for their own actions.

It seems it's always someone else's fault. Never owning up to their mistakes. If you look at many of today's generation, there is always an excuse, blaming someone else for their mistakes. I have seen too many parents who defend their children even when they know they are wrong. Lack of respect for authority, whether its adults, parents, teachers or law enforcement. Parents getting upset with the cops when their children get caught breaking the law. What ever happened to ‘I did it? I was wrong. I will accept my punishment'. How is it that we have evolved in this Country where the criminal has more rights that their victims or the Police?  Lawyers are required to defend their clients and try to get them off even when they know their client is guilty? Somehow this just doesn't seem...  In my opinion, too many times its no longer about right and wrong, guilt or innocence, but who has the most money and best lawyer.

This is true in Congress as well. How is it that the average citizen would face jail time but yet someone in Washington faces what? A slap on the hand?  Allowed to resign?   Why is it that we all have to pay into a shaky social security system but Washington does not? In my Opinion if you want to fix Social Security and Medicare, put the people in Washington on the system.  Watch how fast they come up with the solution and truly fix it. 
  
7. I also believe in red white and blue,  baseball and apple pie.

I believe in our Flag and what it stands for. I believe in ‘one nation under God' in our pledge and ‘in God we trust' on our currency. I believe its better to have our kids pray in school than to have to pray from prison.
I believe a strong armed defense keeps us safe, not because we are bullies but because other Countries know we will not back down. I believe that freedom isn't free and I am grateful to all of the men and women who served and to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to give us this freedom. I also believe we need to continue to be compassionate and help other Countries in time of disaster, but I also don't think we need to ram our ideals down their throats.

Conclusion:     

In spite of our problems, I am proud to say I am an American.  I am proud for what this Country has stood for, for the past 200 plus years.  I believe the United States of America is the greatest County on earth. I vow I will work to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Sheriff John Montgomery

 
 
 
 
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