Kansas House decides to keep counties electing sheriffs



County sheriffs watch from the main gallery of the Kansas House, as they await a debate on a proposed amendment to the state constitution to require sheriffs to be elected to four-year terms, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 , at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. The Kansas Sheriffs Association supports the measure, which comes after a commission from the state’s most populous county reviewed but did not recommend a proposal to appoint the sheriff. (AP Photo/John Hanna)


The Kansas House has approved a measure to ensure counties don’t stop electing their sheriffs.

Wednesday’s vote was 97 to 24 on a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution declaring that sheriffs are elected for four-year terms. The constitution now only says that lawmakers will create county offices “as needed.”

The measure had far more than the two-thirds majority needed to pass the House. If the measure passes the Senate, it will be put to a vote in November for possible voter approval.

Supporters said electing sheriffs makes them more accountable to voters. Opponents said counties should be allowed to decide how to handle enforcement.

Under the proposed wording, lawmakers could no longer change the way sheriffs are selected by law. Counties have elected sheriffs since 1857, four years before Kansas was admitted to the Union.

Riley County in northeastern Kansas is the only one of the state’s 105 counties to be named chief law enforcement agency, after consolidating its sheriff’s department with two law enforcement departments. municipal police in 1974. A Johnson County commission recently considered but did not put forward a proposal. for a sheriff named there.

The proposed amendment would allow Riley County to keep its current system or revert to an elected sheriff.


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