Sheriff Chip Shuler of Virginia’s Smyth County just became the third elected law enforcement official to leave the Democratic Party in the past year because of a “relentless attack on law enforcement by Democrats in Richmond and Washington.”
“My deputies work hard to serve and protect the citizens of Smyth County. As sheriff, it has been difficult to watch my deputies try to move forward during this unprecedented assault on our profession,” Shuler said in a statement obtained by WJHL. “We (law enforcement) remain an honorable profession and should not be judged by the bad acts of a few. I have always been a conservative throughout my law enforcement career of 38 years.”
Shuler was first elected in 2015 and then re-elected in 2019 as a Democrat. Last month, he filed a Republican Party membership application, and it was unanimously approved by the Smyth County Republican Committee.
“I congratulate Sheriff Shuler on taking this bold move to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republican Party,” said Smyth County Republican Party chairman Adam Tolbert. “We are thrilled to have him as a member of the Republican Party in Smyth County.”
Sheriffs John McClanahan of Buchanan County and Brian Hieatt of Tazewell County are the two other sheriffs who left the Democratic Party in 2020. Hieatt recently told Fox News that “you get what you pay for” as he blasted the defund the police movement.
“When we hear talks about defund the police, take away resources, the bottom line is, you get what you pay for and that’s with any profession,” Hieatt said. “So if you take away money and have to pay bottom dollar for certain for all the service and not have the resources to properly train, not have the money to properly test all the new applicants and new people coming in, then you’re not going to get the best.”
“If you want better people in law enforcement, then there needs to be more funding to be able to do more testing, to be able to offer better pay as the people come in,” he added. “Here I’m supposed to be the Democratic sheriff, these people are citizens, these are people that I know that have asked me for help when they’ve needed it, but yet they’re holding up signs asking to defund my department. It’s hard for me as a sheriff to wear a badge as a sworn law enforcement officer and elected sheriff and say I’m with the Democratic party when I would see the things that’s going on that’s hurting law enforcement.”
Not stopping there, Hieatt claimed that the Democratic Party’s values have changed and that lawmakers are trying to implement policies that “make it easier for criminals.”
“When we arrest somebody, when we convict somebody, there’s been a victim of a crime,” Hieatt said. “When you’re changing laws to try to make things better for [criminals], what’s making things better for the victims who had to suffer?”