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Web letter: Officers’ first duty is to uphold Constitution, not enforce laws

The Journal Gazette had an article April 30 (“Sheriff won’t enforce future anti-gun laws”) chastising me for the premise that I would not enforce all laws.

There is a misconception that we are supposed to check our minds at the door and enforce any law regardless of how unjust, oppressive or clearly unconstitutional it is.

The sheriff’s oath of office states, “I do swear or affirm to uphold and defend the United States Constitution and the Indiana Constitution, to the best of my ability, so help me God.” Nowhere in this oath does it require any law enforcement officer to enforce all laws.

Our founding fathers knew there would be people who make mistakes, maybe even evil men, who would attempt to usurp the Constitution. When every public servant takes a solemn oath, then our Constitution has built-in safeguards at all levels, not just at the legislative and judicial levels.

In fact, officers today have a great deal of discretion on enforcing laws. For example, officers enforce traffic laws daily. However, officers often give warnings rather than a citation. The action can still be beneficial to the community by bringing attention to traffic safety.

Would it not have been wonderful if there had been a constitutional officer present in December 1955, the day Rosa Parks was arrested basically because of the color of her skin? The law was in place. However, the officer did not need to enforce it.

Oath of office or blind enforcement? As for me, I will honor my oath of office.

BRADLEY D. ROGERS Elkhart County sheriff

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