Interior objects to bill that would end department law enforcement role

House Democrats are staging a sit-in to press for a vote on gun control measures today — sort of like the Bundy brothers and associates did in Oregon to protest a harsh prison sentence for a rancher, right?

Meanwhile, the Interior Department is strenuously objecting to a bill that would place gun controls on the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management on federal land.

Utah Reps. Jason Chaffetz and the rest of state’s congressional delegation have introduced a bill that would terminate the law enforcement functions of the two agencies on federal land and provide grants to states to handle that function. Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei is a co-sponsor.

According to The Hill, on Monday Harry Humbert, Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for public safety, wrote a letter to the House Natural Resources Committee chair, saying,  “The Department strongly opposes this bill, which would terminate these law enforcement functions and significantly hinder effective management of our public lands.”

But Chaffetz and Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah wrote, “This legislation will help deescalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service will be able to focus on their core missions without the distraction of police functions. This is a win all around.”

The bill raises the specter of the Oregon protest that left one protested dead at the hands of Oregon troopers and the standoff at the Bundy ranch at Bunkerville between armed BLM agents and armed defenders of Bundy.

In an article in the Salt Lake City Tribune in October 2014, rural Utah sheriffs described the head of BLM law enforcement as Public Enemy No. 1.

“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,” the article declares.

Humbert also wrote,  “This is absolutely the wrong way to address a very real problem. Instead of relieving tension, the bill legitimizes anti-government conspiracy theories, dumps fuel on a smoldering fire and makes law enforcement more difficult.”

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6 comments on “Interior objects to bill that would end department law enforcement role

  1. This is an important piece of legislation and it’s long overdue. Let’s hope the House and Senate do the right thing. However I’m not holding my breath…with the likes of Ho House Harry and his partners in crime still haunting the halls of the Senate and Obama with his famous pen, it’s a long shot! Nothing would make me happier than to see Mr. Humbert (and Neil Kornze) eat a bit of crow!

  2. Floyd Rathbun says:

    They are doing the right thing but the bill itself probably isn’t necessary because Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) already provides a law enforcement remedy for federal agencies such as the BLM and USFS if they, in fact, need law enforcement assistance.

    Sec. 303 (1) and (2) of the Act in the Session Laws (see also in 43 USC 1733) includes: “When the Secretary determines that assistance is necessary in enforcing Federal laws and regulation relating to the public lands or their resources, he shall offer a contract to appropriate local officials having law enforcement authority within their respective jurisdictions with the view of achieving maximum feasible reliance upon local law enforcement officials in enforcing such laws and regulations. . . . (2) . . , Such cooperation may include reimbursement to a state or its subdivisions for expenditures incurred by it in connection with activities which assist in the administration and regulation of use and occupancy of the public lands.”

  3. Thomas Mitchell says:

    Read the SLC Trib story about cooperation there.

  4. Nyp says:

    Today’s Second Amendnent moment: one dead, three wounded in Dekalb County shooting.

  5. Steve says:

    Way to defend that “war on drugs” , nyp

  6. Connie Foust says:

    Thomas, it would be helpful to readers to list the government agencies that currently have a law enforcement arm. NOAH has one, why would that be? It is a shame, and this does not include you, we have such a dishonest and unethical press that we are being force fed their political agenda. Finicum’s murder should have been an issue that a good reporter could get out there, but instead it’s all about the Bundy’s. Reporting today is for the mindless and media knows it and uses it to undermine our Constitutional rights. The country is truly being led by the wolves of society and that right now is nameless bureaucrats.

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