Many issues have been highlighted by recent protests against police violence, from qualified immunity from prosecution of law enforcement to increased support for radical change up to and including police abolition. This panel seeks to provide sustained attention to the subject of local sheriffs. While most people are now familiar with many of the basic questions related to municipal police departments, sheriff’s offices present unique challenges. Most U.S. sheriffs are elected officers. They almost always operate with less oversight and less accountability than large city police departments. In most cases, sheriffs and their deputies share some traits with police officers (e.g., they enjoy qualified immunity, carry firearms, and can legally use lethal and nonlethal force to compel obedience and to make arrests). They also share traits with correctional officers, since most county and many city jails are run by sheriff’s departments. How do questions of oversight, accountability, and transparency look different for sheriffs than for police? What kinds of community resistance exist today against sheriff violence and abuse? How have sheriffs been both present and absent in larger academic and community conversations about police and prison abolition?
Protest Your Local Sheriff
Michael Hames-García, University of Texas at Austin