Letter to the Editor from Sheriff Ben Stewart – RE: Alcohol Wet/Dry
August 20, 2012
Letter to the Editor:
As the special election for the wet/dry issue in Madison County approaches I wanted to give you something in writing so there would be no misunderstanding as to where I stand regarding this issue. This same issue came up during the election year of 2008. If you will look back at the “Questions to the Candidates” which ran in the Madison County Carrier newspaper just before the primary in 2008, you will see that I was opposed to the county going wet then. I am still opposed to Madison County becoming a wet county and that will not change. The following are a few of the main reasons that I wanted to bring to your attention.
First, to me this is not an issue that should be argued as right or wrong but what is wise and expedient for Madison County, especially for the youth in Madison County. I believe that alcohol is a gateway to other drugs and substance abuse. A decision based on that alone should be enough of an argument. I understand the different opinions and interpretations that some have regarding scripture on this issue as well. I would only direct you to 1st Corinthians 6:12. Can anyone truly say that having easier access to alcohol in Madison County is wise or expedient?
Second, it should be a simple deduction that easier accessibility will equal more use. It is very disconcerting that supporters of this issue have used the rational that easier access to alcohol will equal less use and less driving while intoxicated. I realize that there are illegal sales of alcohol as well as illegal sales of drugs that occur in this county. However, the fact that both are illegal does create a deterrent. Legalizing the sale of alcohol will not be a deterrent no more than legalizing the sale of cocaine. Our DUI arrests usually occur as people are leaving private parties or local establishments, not coming back from out of town.
Finally, I can tell you that making this county wet will only increase the work load of our deputies and police officers. The simple truth is that most problems regarding alcohol manifest themselves in the home. These will be in the form of domestic violence, battery, assaults, child abuse, child neglect and many others. Currently the average call ratio for the Sheriff’s Office is 160 events a day. This does not include the Police Department, EMS or Fire. I am convinced that this ratio will only increase with the advent of easier access to alcohol in our county. The worst part about this is that intoxicated people are usually combative which creates safety issues for our officers. Anything I can do to make anything safer for my deputies will be worth it to me. I will be glad to explain my position in detail with anyone that would like to meet with me in person. Thank you for your continued support of the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff of Madison County