PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Question 3 is dividing different branches of Maine law enforcement.

The Maine Chiefs of Police Association came out in support of the measure to expand background checks. Not long after that announcement, a majority of sheriffs across the state came out in opposition to it.

When the law enforcement community decides to take a stand on an issue they are typically united behind it. When it comes to Question 3, voters are getting mixed messages from law enforcement.

Sheriff’s throughout Maine are making it clear how they feel about Question 3 in new television ads that began airing this week. 12 of the 16 sheriffs in Maine have come together to oppose the question.

“I don’t believe it was difficult to come to that. As you saw 12 readily said we’re opposed”, said Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson.

He says the sheriffs don’t believe the measure will keep guns away from criminals. He is also concerned about how some of the wording will be interpreted, creating hardships for people who loan guns to friends or relatives for hunting or range shooting.

The sheriffs’ stance is in stark contrast to police chiefs across the state.

“I think we realize there’s going to be at odd on various things,” said Bob Schwartz.

Schwartz is a former South Portland Chief. He is now Executive Director of the Maine Chiefs’ of Police Association. He thinks the main difference may come down to location. Rural law enforcement versus Urban.

“You see the cities and towns with more crime, things going on. The larger cities, they’re concerned about firearms”, he said.

He says politics may also play a role. Sheriffs are elected and may be concerned about how their constituents feel about the question. For police chiefs, that’s not a concern. They’re appointed.