Lawmakers, Utah sheriffs want to rein in renegade BLM, Forest Service officers

In a way, this is off the topic, but my feeling is that we have a patchwork of federal and state and private lands and any problems and mistrust among the authorities can reverberate across topic areas. I have to wonder why this is an issue in Utah and neighboring parts of Colorado, and not so much elsewhere.

Should there be some kind of federal/state/county hearing process where each side is required to state its side of the story for everyone’s mutual understanding? I wonder why this hasn’t happened.. is there a lack of mechanisms? Clearly there is a problem that seems to affect public safety. What could be more important?

Here’s one story..

The sheriff relayed the story of a BLM ranger who chased down a speeding motorist on a state highway using GPS to track down the offender. Because there’s not a federal code for speeding, Smith said the motorist was written up for erratic off-road driving.

Noel said such citations become problematic because violators are forced to deal with federal magistrates often long distances away.

In contrast, San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge said his county has a signed agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in which violators are handled locally and prosecuted on the reservation, providing transparency and accountability in the system.

Garfield County Sheriff James Perkins said he didn’t have enough time to brief committee members on the problems he’s had with overzealous federal employees over the past few years, and his concerns have gone unanswered.

“I’ve gotten absolutely nothing but stonewalled,” Perkins said. “I’ve tried my best to work with these people.”

While the sheriffs emphasized they have often enjoyed cooperative working arrangements with federal agencies such as the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration, it has not been the case with land management agencies, with law enforcement missions at times compromised.

Perkins said a raid on a 20,000-plant marijuana cartel garden was botched because the federal land agency conducted a “confirmation mission” the day before.

“It was a total failure,” he said.

Some lawmakers questioned if they were only hearing one side of the story and wondered aloud if there had been serious attempts to hammer out the problems.

(my italics)

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