Oregonians afraid of Bundy-backing sheriff’s army of 65 appointed ‘special deputies’
An investigation into the activities of a rural sheriff who was one of the Oregon occupier’s biggest boosters has revealed that he has a mostly secret army of “special deputies” who report directly to him with little information available about exactly what they do.
According to OregonLive, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer has an official staff including an undersheriff, two deputies and a small jail staff.
What makes Palmer stand out from other sheriffs in Oregon, is the large contingent of friends — 65 appointees since since 2010 — who are given ID cards and free rein to go where others can’t, including government land that is off-limits to others.
Many in the community are concerned that Palmer uses his private group as a small army keeping tabs on the populace and federal employees while helping to enforce his personal agenda.
Palmer — who is elected but regards himself as a “constitutional sheriff” above the laws of the federal government — drew national attention for his support for the band of militants, led by Ryan and Ammon Bundy, who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 41 days beginning in January.
When several of the occupiers were arrested by federal agents — with occupier LaVoy Finicum being shot and killed — they were on their way to see Palmer to ask for his help.
Like the Bundys, Palmer believes that the federal government should turn over land to the states and, in his official capacity, has previously involved himself in a long-running battle with U.S. Forest Service employees.
According to OregonLive, a few of Palmer’s special deputies carry badges and keep an eye on things, but there is no public record of any of them ever reporting a crime. In fact, many appear to have no training, and several have criminal records. Asked for what reporting the deputies have done over the years, Palmer’s office offered eight pages of handwritten journal entries from one special deputy, with notations including seeing ” no one” as well as “good berry picking” and “having a good time.”
In the case of Roy R. Peterson, 63, appointed as a special deputy for search missions, he was under indictment when Palmer deputized him. Peterson was later accused of misappropriating state fire money and equipment. Palmer opened his own investigation into the charges before dismissing it as a civil case, however state police later stepped in and Peterson was later indicted for theft, possession of a stolen vehicle and other charges.
As for Palmer, he is the target of a criminal investigation for allegedly tampering with public records, and is facing an administrative review based upon 11 complaints filed with the state agency that licenses police officers.
Palmer is up for re-election this November and is being opposed by one of his former undersheriffs.