Utah Rep. Chaffetz Offers Bill Ending Land Agencies Law Enforcement Responsibilities

Published April 5, 2016

In the aftermath of the recent standoff in Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is offering legislation to end the Bureau of Land Management’s and the U.S. Forest Service’s law enforcement responsibilities, offering money to states to better fund local sheriffs who Chaffetz says often know the subjects involved in problems and know the issues at the core of the conflict better than federal officers. 

According to a Salt Lake Tribune report, Chaffetz, expressing concern about the increasing militarization of federal environmental agencies, says local law enforcement should be responsible for responding to incidents on wide swaths of public land. Chaffetz. 

“The first line of defense should be the sheriff,” Chaffetz told the Tribune. “Right now there’s an open request for proposals for sub-machine guns to be purchased by the BLM. They’re building up this arsenal and it’s very concerning for me how volatile this situation is.”

Chaffetz bill next week is supported by all three of his Utah Republican colleagues, who are co-sponsors. 

Chaffetz’s bill allows BLM or Forest Service personnel to carry sidearms, “which I would want for myself,” said Chaffetz, but he rejects the idea public land agencies should have tactical teams.

“We need to be more Andy Griffith and less Rambo,” the Tribune reported Chaffetz as adding.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.