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What’s the difference between a county sheriff and President Barack Obama?

I’ll give you a hint—it’s not that one of them is elected to serve for a four-year term. Surprise! Most sheriffs, like presidents, are elected to four-year terms with a basic job requirement—to enforce the law. For the president that basic job requirement is to uphold the Constitution.

But you don’t have to play “one of these things is not like the other” to guess who’s actually doing his job.

California’s El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini was getting multiple calls and complaints about the way that Forest Service agent were behaving towards citizens of his county.

El Dorado County contains the Eldorado National Forest which boasts over 2.1 million visitors each year, according to a forest service website.

That’s a lot of traffic and activity in a federally controlled area and it’s understandable that Forest Service agents probably have to flex their muscles from time to time.

However, lest we forget that key point I mentioned earlier, it’s important to remember who has the ultimate authority for an area that lies within county boundaries.

You guessed it—Sheriff D’Agostini.

As a consequence to the poor-performing Forest Service agents within the county boundaries, Sheriff D’Agostini revoked their authority within the county boundaries.

What does this mean?

Well, it doesn’t mean that the Eldorado National Forest has suddenly been left bereft of authority and policing. Peace officers in California can flex their muscles anywhere in the state, regardless of county or municipal lines. That means that, in all likelihood, Sheriff D’Agostini took matters into his own hands.

What Sheriff D’Agostini’s actions mean, in a larger sense, is that he realized that he had a choice when it came to dealing with the infringement of the federal government within his jurisdiction. He could sit by and let the complaints of Forest Service agents overstepping their boundaries add up or he could take action.

Now, before you rush off to declare to the face of your local Forest Service agent that he has no authority, remember that it was Sheriff D’Agostini who took charge by revoking the authority of the Forest Service agents.

Sheriff D’Agostini is an elected leader within his county and has authority, granted to him by those people who live in his county and elected him to the office of sheriff, to enforce the law as best he sees fit.

What Sheriff D’Agostini understands, that President Obama doesn’t, is that those you serve in an elected office rely on you to protect their rights. If President Obama was thinking of the American people with the same consideration as Sheriff D’Agostini, you can bet things would be a lot different across the country.

But it’s no use waiting for President Obama to see straight and realize that. He’s had more than enough time.

What lesson can we learn from Sheriff D’Agostini revoking the authority from under-performing federal agents? It’s a simple one. If the federal government oversteps its bounds, turn to our elected officials to change things. If it can work in California, it can work anywhere.


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