Budish Issues Statement Regarding Council’s Proposed Changes to the Sheriff Section of the County Code

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Mary Louise Madigan: (216) 698-2521; mlmadigan@cuyahogacounty.us

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH - Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish issued the following statement:

“The Council’s proposed changes to the ordinance concerning the sheriff are, at the very least, unworkable and impractical, and may be unconstitutional.

“The Sheriff’s role is critically important to the health and safety of Cuyahoga County residents, especially when it comes to our County Jail.

“Over the past year, my Chief of Staff, Bill Mason and our Chief of Public Safety, Bob Coury have devoted untold hours working with the Sheriff to address various issues that existed at the jail.

“They are also executing my vision for reducing the jail population and providing alternatives to jail including our new Diversion Center.

“This proposal from Council basically gives the executive/administration responsibility for problems arising from the sheriff’s department but gives none of the authority needed to address and fix those problems.

“For example, if an officer uses excessive force, the executive can be accused of hiring the wrong sheriff or of failing to provide sufficient resources or training, but he cannot require or even suggest additional training or discipline.

“In another example, if the jail population creeps up to its previous level over 2,000, the executive would have no authority to convene a collaborative group to get the population down (as we have done this year.)

“In the case of the pandemic, we quickly stood up an extensive protocol of testing and screening. I credit our cross-functional and rapid response for the fact that we have had not one inmate die from COVID. Under Council’s proposal, there would be no way for the administration to oversee, activate and maintain COVID protocols.

“Responsibility without authority cannot work. Either the executive/administration must have both responsibility and authority, or neither.

“The only way to create a totally independent sheriff is to make the position elected. While that would be better than Council’s proposal, it would be a step backward from the county reform adopted by the voters.

“The current structure works. We have an excellent candidate waiting to start his job.

“I call upon Council to move forward with the appointment of Mr. Viland and reject these proposed radical changes to the structure.”

Read the proposed changes to the ordinance in the March 4 Cuyahoga County Council Committee of the Whole Meeting Agenda.