Grants, contracts, the Calaveras Sheriff and who pays the piper

Does anybody besides me feel vaguely uneasy that our local law enforcement is gradually becoming more dependent on doing contract work for outside entities?

What I’m talking about are contracts under which the Calaveras Sheriff provides services to various federal agencies. Things like patrolling in national forest areas, or around the lakes like New Hogan and New Melones. ¬†One one level, this seems fine. After all, it is our national government too, and the Sheriff’s Department can use the revenue. It means that they can keep a larger staff available to help out in those all-hands-on-deck situations that occur once in a while.

On the other hand, our local government and the feds are not always in lock step. Medical marijuana is legal according to Calaveras County, for example, while the feds still see it as devil weed.

The problem with having someone other than the local government paying for law enforcement officers is that one can easily see times in human history when it was a very bad thing to have some outside entity paying for the people who have weapons and know how to use them. Read up on Nicolo Machiavelli’s understanding of this. I’d rather have the local law enforcement officers working for me, for all of us here, with no doubts about their loyalty. If we don’t find a way to pay them, somebody else will. And that somebody else could be the government or extremely rich people, or God knows who.

Several such contracts are on Tuesday’s agenda at the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors meeting. They will probably be approved with no discussion. They probably should be. Still, I do hope we find a way to pay for law enforcement on our own.

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