What happens when a sheriff’s office can’t afford to operate?

That’s the question that popped up earlier this week in one Kentucky county as needed funds that were expected weren’t released, thus meaning the office had no way to pay anyone for anything.

As such, the sheriff issued a dire warning.

I want to address the citizens of our county. I have been your Sheriff for over four years now. It has been a struggle…

Posted by John Kirk on Sunday, February 3, 2019

One particular point worth noting, however, is when Sheriff Kirk said this:

FOLKS, LOCK YOUR DOORS, LOAD YOUR GUNS AND GET YOU A BARKING, BITING DOG. If the Sheriffs office can’t protect you, WHO WILL ?

The truth is, no one was ever going to protect you.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe Sheriff Kirk and his deputies would do everything within their power to protect every citizen of their county, but the truth is that they never really could.

As such, his advice should stand regardless of whether his office is flush with cash or as broke as a sailor on liberty.

Now, that said, I’ve pointed out before that a law which isn’t enforced doesn’t really exist for all practical purposes. They’re just words on a page. Without enforcement of laws, you have anarchy.

Now, Martin County isn’t likely to go full-on Mad Max within the week or anything. After all, it’s a small, fairly rural community with a population of under 13,000 people. While it’s a poor county, it’s probably not likely to go entirely off the rails before the funding Sheriff Kirk is referring to is released to his department, in theory.

It also appears that there aren’t any other county-wide law enforcement agencies in Martin County, so when he acts like there’s no police coverage, he’s right.

Now, there may be some local departments in the various towns throughout the county, which is better than nothing, but it’s likely they’re not going to increase their patrol areas in response to the sheriff’s announcement.

It’ll be interesting to see how this transpires, but while I believe the sheriff is telling the truth about his struggles, it also makes for a hell of a case of brinksmanship.

The county will have to come up with some money for his office if it wants to continue having law enforcement coverage. Frankly, that should always be a priority, probably before most anything else. Otherwise, you end up with what you have right now, namely no law enforcement coverage. It’s what some people want.

My hope is that this will be rectified quickly. The fact that it hasn’t is troubling. It may be time for the state to step in and look into whatever’s going on. If there’s been mismanagement, people need to know. If there’s something else, people need to know. If it’s just that there’s no money, then maybe it’s time for someone to figure out how to fix that.

No one needs to go without police protection.

While they won’t protect you, it’s good to have someone to call for backup should a home invader feel froggy on a cold, winter’s evening.