New Sheriff, But Same Ole Problems By Robert A. Williams

Folks, we told you in 2006 that Raymond Hamrick was not the right choice for Sheriff and yes, those chickens came home to roost…most notably during the 2010 Election cycle.  All that stuff that happened during this year’s Sheriff Election just had to play out.  Of course Skippy and the Shelby Daily Liar dragged it out for all it was worth to sell a few papers.  But, there were some lessons learned, like how the County Commissioners should never have let Cleveland County go “Sheriff-less” for four of the eight years of the Raymond Hamrick regime.  But there was no need for Citizens for Good Government to pile on Sheriff Hamrick right at the last.  We have been telling you all along so at the end, too much had gone on for too long to do anything anyway.  December 6th would bring an end to the Raymond Hamrick Sheriff’s Department and we would start again from there.  And try to bring some good advice and direction to the NEW Sheriff.

Well, 9:00am December 6th rolled around and Alan Norman was sworn in as the new Sheriff of Cleveland County.  Happy Days are here again!  Again the swearing-in of the Sheriff of Cleveland County was like the Coronation of a King.  Sheriff Norman hit the ground running, making his rounds at the Courthouse and elsewhere.  We wish Sheriff Alan Norman the best and we’ll help the CCSD as much as we can.

But, Sheriff Norman rehired all of Sheriff Hamrick’s deputies plus one of Sheriff Dan Crawford’s top guys as his Top Gun.  An old saying is “a new broom sweeps clean.”  Sheriff Norman is the new “broom”, but the Sheriff didn’t sweep at all much less sweep clean.  And there were a few at the Sheriff’s Department that probably needed to be swept.  Perhaps that will come about soon as situations may arise.

And a “situation” may have arisen less than 24 hours after the new Sheriff was sworn-in and Happy Days officially arrived.  It seems that, according to Skippy, two men were arrested from inside their homes on Bethlehem Road.  According to the sketchy information in The Star, one man was arrested for kicking a Deputy and the other for threatening a Deputy.  There was some mention of EMS presence on the property.

The problem with this situation is what were the Sheriff’s Deputies doing inside the property in the first place?  And why were there no separate charges regarding crimes that were actually being committed independent of the Deputies being inside the property?

Ever since the Magna Carta in 1215, the power of the King of England and the Sheriff of Nottingham stopped at a man’s front door.  Ever since the United States Constitution in 1790, the power of all law enforcement in the United States, including Cleveland County Sheriff’s Deputies, also stopped at a man or woman’s front door.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution says:  “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but by probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Neither The Star article, Skippy or the Deputies charges described in The Star indicate that the two men had done anything that allowed the Sheriff’s Deputies on the property in the first place.  There was no mention that the homeowner invited the Deputies inside.  Only in Nazi Germany, Cleveland County and Henderson County, NC does the Gestapo burst uninvited into people’s homes, beat them up and arrest them for resisting arrest without probable cause in advance to entering into homes or private property.  The charge of “obstruction of justice” is often used by police in a sick reversal of facts in that the police themselves had no right to enter the premises and the homeowner has all the rights given by the Constitution to defend his or her home and property from intruders, no matter if the intruders are the police or Sheriff’s Deputies.

Maybe there was more to the situation than The Star indicated that gave the Deputies the authority to do what they did.  Then again, maybe NOT!!!  We expect our New Sheriff to get to the bottom of this situation and make personnel changes as needed.  It will not be enough to just drop charges that were not legal in the first place.  That has happened too much already in Cleveland County.  Violating Constitutional rights of citizens will no longer be tolerated and ALL Sheriffs and ALL Deputies need to be trained accordingly.

Sheriff Norman, our best wishes are with you in turning your Department around.  We will be watching cases like this as well as others to make sure that this is one of your top priorities.  We will report what we find.  We will be fair and balanced. That is a promise.

Stay Tuned for follow-ups to this article.

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