The recent coverage of the homeless issue and the attempt by the Herald to frame it as a hot-button issue in the coming election obscure the fact that this is a complex national problem over which the La Plata County Sheriff has limited impact.
Sheriff Sean Smith has clearly shown that he is enforcing the law but unlike his opponents, he understands the laws, the appeals, recent higher court rulings and the constitutional implications. And while it’s an important issue, the sheriff has other pressing responsibilities.
The sheriff’s office is the largest agency in county government, with a $15 million budget and 128 employees. It responded to nearly 37,000 calls last year, an increase of 13,000 over his predecessor.
Sheriff Smith was front and center during the 416 Fire, safely evacuating 1,500 homes without incident. There was no looting or property damage while people were evacuated.
The flooding following the fire continues to threaten homes, and Smith once again is front-line in protecting people and property.
The sheriff has a complex, multifaceted job. A complex issue like homelessness cannot be enforced out of existence. Sheriff Smith is working with a coalition of the city, the county and nonprofits to address the homeless issue.
That’s another reason we need Sean in office: he has the leadership, the reputation and the respect to be a leader in this, and other, issues facing our community.