by Chet Hardin
As we reported this week, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa launched himself into the political fray in a big way in the debate surrounding gun bills.
The sheriff went on a full-court press, first with his allegation that Senate Democrats attempted to put pressure on sheriffs statewide to change their opposition to the gun bills. The alleged pressure was being brought to bear on a salary increase that the sheriffs are seeking from the Legislature, which regulates their pay.
Many observers, including Senate President John Morse, saw a political motive in Maketa's actions, with some questioning whether or not he was preparing for a run at statewide office. Others argued that, being an elected law enforcement officer meant that he had the responsibility, as well as the credibility, to speak on the bills.
Yet another observer of Maketa's actions is Alan Franklin, the political director of ProgressNow Colorado. He notes the seeming hypocrisy of the sheriff taking such a political stance while, at the same time, defending an internal policy change that strictly regulates the political activities of his command staff.
The policy change, as we reported on March 6, didn't sit well with the ACLU's Rebecca Wallace.
Wallace called the policy, which bans off-duty political activity of his command staff without prior approval from the sheriff, "a significant overreach," "plainly unconstitutional on its face," and warned that "it would unlikely withstand a constitutional challenge."
Maketa defended that policy by stating that it was necessary to avoid political activities by his command staff that might derail the interests of the sheriff's office.
Regardless, as Franklin puts it, "A law enforcement officer has an obligation to the highest ethical standards. Sheriff Maketa's irresponsible allegations, which he is unable to substantiate, reflect badly on him and invite questions about his character. After instituting a strict policy against political involvement with his department, here is Sheriff Maketa playing politics in the legislature. And to claim he is being pressured, when it appears he is actually pressuring the legislature to introduce a bill raising sheriff's pay, is the height of hypocrisy."