Are deputy sheriffs even cops? There are numerous decisions going both ways, and the extent of their authority is murky. Legislation has been proposed to make clear that deputies have the same clout as regular cops - HB 466 - but it has been languishing in the Judiciary Committee since February, 2007.
Northampton County has employed two older gentlemen, Sam Senneca and Joe Peake, as deputy sheriffs for many years. Both are extremely popular. Sam, who is about twenty feet tall, was always stationed in the bullpen with prisoners waiting to go to court. He never carried a gun. He never needed one.
But when Sam and Joe "failed" to qualify with their pistols, they were unceremoniously shown the door by some high-ranking deputy impressed with his own importance. Neither was even given an opportunity to say good-bye.
Firearms' qualifications should only be one of many factors to consider in evaluating the performance of a deputy sheriff. By any other measure, from intelligence to personality, both of these gentlemen excel. I seriously question whether someone - a hangover from the Deputy ("Bend Over") Kunkel days - is just trying to shove them aside to make room for one of his pals.
High-ranking county officials are trying to find employment for Sam and Joe in some other capacity. They should. The real value in Northampton County comes from its workforce, not its pretty new courthouse.