NOTE: In the West, there is an old saying to the effect that: “good fences make good neighbors.” At RANGEfire! we acknowledge our virtual neighbors on this virtual landscape, We acknowledge that there are always multiple sides to every story. Oregonian Reporter Les Zaitz has been a very vocal critic of the Malheur Occupation, and has taken a special interest in Grant County Sheriff, Glenn Palmer.
Here at RANGEFIRE! we seek to avoid being a one-sided, single-dimensional echo chamber. We think it is important for people to have an opportunity to hear all sides of the story, and know what others are saying about these issues. So we often share what others are saying. about these issues.
What Others (Zaitz) Are Saying:
According to Zaitz, “The sheriff’s office in rural Grant County consists of the sheriff, an undersheriff, two deputies and a small cadre of jail staff.
Then there’s the army of volunteers.
In the past six years, Sheriff Glenn Palmer has appointed 65 people as special deputies – more than any sheriff in the state. The force includes at least two men who have broken the law.
They have ID cards and special access to government land that’s off-limits to most. Some have badges. But none seems to have ever reported a crime. Many appear to have no training.
The size and secrecy of the unusual crew underscores much about the county’s top law enforcement officer: He pushes the boundaries of what elected sheriffs typically do.
Over 16 years, Palmer has used his position in ways big and small to further a personal agenda – from allowing his own needs to trump emergencies to directing his patrol staff to ignore violations of laws governing private gun sales. He has drawn a fervent following by repeatedly challenging federal authority over forestlands.
Palmer, 54, might have remained an obscure local sheriff but for the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January.
He publicly sympathized with the armed militants and became a heroic figure among the activists and their supporters. His advocacy burnished his reputation as a “constitutional sheriff” – one of a small band of law officers who believe the Constitution makes them supreme and the federal government subservient.
“You are not kicking us off our public lands,” he declared in a 2012 speech. “No more. It’s got to stop.”
Such populism won Palmer re-election three times, but the sheriff has now reached a crossroads.
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