As Sheriffs’ Duties Rise, Washington Has Cut Federal Funding


Sheriff Randy Krukow, 56, of Clay County, Iowa is facing a flood of challenges big and small, all of them time-consuming and many going beyond the realm of crime, reports the Chicago Tribune. Drug trafficking — most of it in methamphetamine — made up nearly half the arrests in Clay County last year. The population in the creaky, 71-year-old jail is changing as the number of inmates with mental health problems is rising sharply, and deputies are not equipped to deal with their special needs. Krukow sometimes feels like a real estate agent because he has to continually make sure that convicted sex offenders live at least 2,000 feet away from a school or day-care center, as required by a new state law. Since he took office in 2001, overall complaints from the 17,000 residents in the county are up 55 percent. “I had a mother come in and ask me to scare her 3-year-old into behaving,” Krukow said, shaking his head in disgust. “It used to be that neighbors could talk to neighbors and resolve their disputes. Now it’s ‘Call the cops,’ ” he said. “It’s adult day care. Now you’re supposed to be everything to everybody.”

The job of sheriff is changing. As Washington has drastically cut multibillion-dollar federal grants that went to counties for drug investigations and other crime prevention, sheriffs are complaining that hometown security has taken a back seat to homeland security. “In all my years in law enforcement, I think the attacks of 9/11 have done more to change the job of sheriff than any other event since the days of the Wild West,” said Terrence Jungel, a former sheriff now director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. “It’s totally changed the dynamics.” Ted Kamatchus, sheriff of Marshall County, Iowa and president of the National Sheriffs’ Association, said sheriffs are “called upon more and more to be the first line of defense against terrorism, violent crime and drugs, and this is happening while we’re losing our federal funding.” He said federal funding for local law enforcement has been cut 75 percent since 2001, to $550 million.


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