Local Law to BLM, Rein In Your Cops

September 22, 2014

Dan Love(Undated Utah)- The Salt Lake Tribune in a weekend lengthy story, details the increasing friction between local law enforcement sheriff’s and the BLM Law enforcement Unit. Public Enemy No. 1 for rural Utah sheriffs just happens to be a fellow peace officer: Dan Love, the Bureau of Land Management’s special agent in charge. Elected law enforcement officers from Nephi to Blanding call him an arrogant and dishonest bully who has little regard for local authority and dodges accountability, derailing a collaborative approach to police work on the state’s federal lands. Love reportedly just laughed when Garfield County Sheriff James “Danny” Perkins relayed ranchers’ complaints about federal officers removing plastic feed tubs from the range and threatening the ranchers with litter citations. He drew early controversy during an undercover probe of artifacts trafficking in Blanding in 2009. More recently, Love led the BLM’s aborted roundup of Cliven Bundy’s cattle following an armed standoff with anti-government protesters at the Utah-Nevada border.Now top state officials want Love gone. “This is untenable,” said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. “There comes a time when personalities get in the way of productivity.” For his part, Love is not talking.

“This refusal to coordinate, coupled with a lack of any meaningful oversight, has created a perfect environment where the abuse of federal law enforcement powers can occur,” Perkins recently testified before a congressional committee. For example, Perkins and San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge say, rangers pull over citizens without probable cause, even in areas where they have no jurisdiction, “bully” ranch hands, berate tourists for parking vehicles off dirt roads and illegally close roads. Federal officers refuse to help with searches and rescues, or when they do, they get in the way.

One recent flap surrounding Love stems from the contracts the BLM signs with some sheriff’s departments, compensating them for patrolling public lands and conducting searches and rescues. State and local officials allege Love recently “terminated” such contracts with five counties as retribution for the state’s enactment last year of HB155, which limits the authority of officers employed by federal land agencies. Agreements with Kane, San Juan, Emery, Juab and Grand county sheriffs — worth about $178,000 a year — expired in 2012. Garfield, San Juan, Carbon counties have passed resolutions declaring federal authority unwelcome, alleging BLM law enforcement presents a threat to “health, safety and welfare.” In his legislative testimony, San Juan’s Sheriff Rick Eldredge said a BLM ranger confronted him on his family’s property adjacent to BLM land and the Ute Mountain Ute community. The ranger, who didn’t recognize the sheriff, erroneously admonished Eldredge against driving on tribal land. The ranger backed off and apologized when Eldredge identified himself, but the sheriff was in no forgiving mood. “He didn’t even know whose land it was,” Edredge told lawmakers earlier this month. “He just wanted to give me a bad time. Even if it was [land administered by Bureau of Indian Affairs], he had no jurisdiction to tell me stay off.

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