Delaware Only: Beau Biden Neuters Sheriffs – Whats a Sheriff Without Arrest Powers?

The State of Delaware has three counties and three Sheriffs, each elected by the people. Sheriff Jeff Christopher of Sussex County, Delaware says Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden, has issued mandates to “commissioners” (presumably country commissioners) that “their sheriffs no longer have arrest powers.” Sheriff Christopher says this is contrary to the state Constitution. He believes the idea is to get rid of sheriffs entirely, and says the remaining two Delaware Sheriffs will not help him fight these mandates. I’d love to know what the people think about this, as it appears the Delaware Constitution was only recently changed, but still not clear.

Sheriff Jeff Christopher

Sheriff Jeff Christopher

Sheriff Christopher’s describes his Constitutional authority:

“The sheriffs shall be conservators of the peace within the counties . . . in which they reside.”

The Delaware Constitution, Title 10 Chapter 21:

§ 2103. Sheriffs and regular deputies.

Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs shall not have any arrest authority. However, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs may take into custody and transport a person when specifically so ordered by a judge or commissioner of Superior Court.

According to this article, the above § 2103 may have been changed within the last year:

A law passed this year specifying that sheriff’s deputies can’t arrest anyone was constitutional and proper, they say. It is a position Christopher disagrees with.

There is this apparent contradiction:

§ 2109. Reception of sum due on capias ad satis=-faciendum.

Upon arresting a defendant on a writ of capias ad satisfaciendum, the sheriff shall receive the sum due thereon if offered.

Sheriff Christopher:

“Now my deputies and I have been relieved of all arrest powers and can’t even make a traffic stop,” he said. “Delaware has only three counties. . . The other two sheriffs . . . will not stand up with me” to prevent the elimination of county law enforcement, he said.

During an interview at the Las Vegas Sheriffs Conference in January, Christopher told AFP that the impotence of his office was brought home to him when he was hit in the eye and kicked by County Councilman Vance Phillips but was unable to arrest him.

Sheriff Christopher filed a lawsuit against the County Council for failing to “extend a state contract that had the Sheriff’s Office serve subpoenas and other papers on behalf of Family Court. Those duties brought in $87,000 in revenue in fiscal 2012. Now, a collection company, Dental-Medical Collections, Inc. has the contract. Christopher believes this does not serve the people of Sussex County well.

What kind of a state has Sheriffs with no arrest powers, and who wants a neutered Sheriff?

DOVER, Del. – Delaware lawmakers are considering legislation to clarify the arrest authority of county sheriffs.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Danny Short, R-Seaford, and Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, would modify state law to explicitly prohibit sheriffs and deputies from making arrests. The proposal has bipartisan support.

“It tells the sheriffs of the state of Delaware what they can and cannot do,” said Short. “Specifically, it says they cannot arrest people.”

The bill is partially intended to resolve an ongoing dispute between Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher and the county administration.

Delaware sheriffs traditionally conduct foreclosure sales and deliver court papers. Christopher believes the state constitution makes him a law enforcement officer. The county council and county administration disagree. Last fall, then-County Administrator David Baker ordered deputies to stop performing police work and remove lights from sheriff’s vehicles. Baker said the sheriff was putting the county at risk of lawsuits. Source WBOC

According to this, Delaware is the only state where the Sheriff cannot make arrests. Weird, but then Attorney General Beau Biden is weird Joe Biden’s son.

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  • In my experience, at least in the four southern states I’ve lived in, the High Sheriff has the ultimate law enforcement responsibility in his or her county. That is the complete jurisdiction of the county. Town and city police have jurisdiction inside the city limits, but the sheriff does also. State Police have jurisdiction over all state roads and interstates, but so does the sheriff in his county.

    The High Sheriff supersedes even federal officers in his area of responsibility.

    But what can you expect from a leftist “utopia” like Delaware.

    • Mike G., everywhere I looked, the Sheriff was the highest level of policing. This odd and I would love to hear what the people think, the people who voted for their Sheriffs and I’d like to know if they knew the Constitution was changed.

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