MANSFIELD: Electing the Sheriff?

It appears as if the scapegoating has now begun in earnest in regards to the deplorable conditions in the Cuyahoga County Jail. The county council is now proposing that we go back to an elected sheriff as the solution — or at least part of it. While I’m not opposed to once again letting voters decide who occupies that position, it’s foolhardy in the extreme for anyone to think this change alone will fix the problem; it won’t.

We’ve had elected sheriffs in the past (Ralph Kreiger and Gerald McFaul) and under both of them, the County Jail conditions became so bad that investigations were launched. So obviously the sheriff isn’t the problem, or at least not the entire problem.

When a body of elected officials offers up a quick-fix solution, it means they are not doing a deep dive into the causation, but merely are attempting to show they are worth the paychecks they receive. This is their way of saying, “We’re doing the job you elected us to do.” The problem is, they’re not.

Offering up a simple solution to a complex problem actually does more harm than good since the public could then be lulled into thinking that a solution is forthcoming when, in this case, it clearly is not — or not just by making this change.

If the members of county council don’t know where the problem lies, here’s a hint: Look at the top levels of the county administration. Political decisions were made there that caused the current crisis, and if they don’t know it, they should.

When Ken Mills was named to the position of county jail administrator that’s when the county council should have protested loudly and publicly raised a red flag. It seems everyone but they knew he was not qualified for the job. The fact they didn’t raise the issue then leads me to one of either two conclusions: Either they were too lacking in knowledge, or they didn’t care.

If they didn’t know Mills’ appointment was a horrible decision what does that say about their competency to weigh in with a solution now? And if they knew and didn’t care then why are they appearing to care now?

As much as I hate to interject race into the issue, I, along with many others in the black community, will forever be left wondering if the fact the current sheriff Clifford Pickney happens to be black has anything to do with this call for an elected sheriff?

Hey, don’t blame me for raising the issue of race, we blacks didn’t design, nor do we perpetuate the current racial political system in place in Cuyahoga County, where race has always played a prominent hand. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at how white the common pleas bench happens to be.

And there certainly are folks in some parts of the county that are not at all happy about the fact the sheriff’s position being held by a black man. After all, we’re still part of America, right?

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.

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