Montana sheriff cancels Oath Keeper-led officer training

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office in Montana has canceled two upcoming training sessions for the staff at a detention facility that would have featured a self-described Oath Keeper and "constitutional sheriff" as the trainer.

The Montana Standard reports that Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jeannette Smith sent an email stating that the town no longer will hold two sessions scheduled for May 31 and Sept. 19 with Richard “Rick” Whitehead.

The decision apparently was prompted by a Reuters story published May 6 that exposed how U.S. police trainers with far-right ties are conducting law enforcement training sessions across the United States. That story highlighted Whitehead, an Idaho-based police training consultant.

The Missoula Police Department ended its relationship with a training group that advocates for police violence in February. Killology Research Group, led by former Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, held two police training sessions for Missoula officers.

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According to the Montana Standard, "During a failed 2020 campaign for the sheriff’s office in Kootenai County, Idaho, Whitehead handed out cards where he self-identified as an Oath Keeper, Reuters reported. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, members of the Oath Keepers hold anti-government beliefs and laud themselves as defenders of the Constitution. Whitehead also told Reuters he was an Oath Keeper in 2016 and 2017.

“Missoula County Detention Facility personnel have attended trainings offered by Richard Whitehead & Associates LLC following a program change in July 2021,” Smith said in an email. “In light of the recent article, Missoula County Detention Facility will no longer attend training presented by Richard Whitehead & Associates LLC.”

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