Jackson sheriff changes parties

RIPLEY, W.Va. — Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger changed his political affiliation Thursday, a day after the U.S. House passed a sweeping police reform bill.

Mellinger was elected as a Democrat but changed his registration to Republican. He told MetroNews affiliate WMOV in Ravenswood he can’t continue to support a national front that doesn’t support law enforcement.

“I don’t view myself as a politician. I never have. I just kind of call it like I see it,” Mellinger said.

He called the House bill the “final nail in the coffin” for him.

“There’s a lot of things in that bill that would e completely devastated to law enforcement as we know it. It speaks volumes of what they think of us,” Mellinger said.

The bill passed the House 220-212 with only one Republican voting in favor of it.

The measure would prohibit racial and religious profiling by police. It bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants in federal investigations. It would do away with qualified immunity for police and create a national police misconduct registry.

Mellinger said he can’t say he’s surprised by the vote.

“We kind of suspected this was going to a focal point of the Biden administration when he took office. It doesn’t matter if you support Biden or you support Trump, I can’t support people who don’t support me,” Mellinger said.

Mellinger said he would have rather switched his registration to independent but he decided to go to Republican instead.

“This isn’t so much about I have to be a Republican and I don’t want to be a Democrat,” Mellinger said. :I don’t want to be affiliated, I don’t want to support a group of individuals who don’t support law enforcement.”

The bill’s chances in the U.S. Senate are uncertain.