The House Elections Committee this week advanced legislation from state Rep. Brian BeGole that ensures Michigan county sheriff positions are experienced and able to serve residents and communities effectively.
Currently, the only requirement to run for county sheriff in Michigan is to be a registered and qualified elector in the county in which election is sought by the filing deadline. House Bill 4981 would require candidates to be a licensed law enforcement officer or a certified corrections officer with at least five years of experience, unless they are currently serving as a sheriff.
“When you look at the responsibility and liability that comes with duties such as road patrol, 911 central dispatch, jail operations, emergency management, and others, you need an individual who has experience to take on those tasks and make sure they can serve residents who rely on these services,” said BeGole, of Antrim Township. “This position often involves life and death situations. We have a gap in our current election requirements that potentially leaves our communities open to inadequate services in times of great need, and that doesn’t help our state or our residents.”
Other states have stringent requirements for county sheriff positions. In Ohio, no person is eligible to be a candidate for sheriff and no person can be elected or appointed to the office unless they have been employed full-time by a law enforcement agency or hold a current valid peace officer certificate of training issues by a state commission. Individuals also must have at least two consecutive years of supervisory experience as a peace officer at the rank of sergeant, or get a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice from a college or university.
Before serving in the Legislature, BeGole worked in law enforcement for 32 years, including six as a county sheriff.
“This is not meant to discourage anyone from running for office,” BeGole said. “People should continue to be a part of our elections process and seek to serve. This legislation merely acknowledges the various day-to-day responsibilities of this position and establishes what should be needed to meet the needs of the people.”
HB 4981 now moves to the full House for further consideration.
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