Grant County sheriff viewed as ‘security leak’ as state seeks investigation

Oregon Live – by Les Zaitz

The dispatcher at the John Day 911 center hesitated when Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer radioed in for information about a roadblock after state police shot and killed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.

Palmer was on his way south from John Day on Jan. 26 after hearing reports of the traffic stop and shooting, triggered when authorities moved in to arrest leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover.  

The veteran sheriff had been left out of the planning for the stop on U.S. 395 about 20 miles north of Burns in Harney County and now he wanted his dispatchers to fill him in.

“I felt uncomfortable knowing that I had to relay vital and confidential information to someone who may not be trustworthy,” the dispatcher later told her supervisor.

The extraordinary scene of a police dispatcher distrusting the top law enforcement officer in the jurisdiction is part of a litany of allegations against Palmer that may now subject him to a state investigation.

The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training on Thursday released eight separate complaints, including ones from a 911 manager and the John Day police chief, alleging misconduct by Palmer. The complaints, filed the past two weeks, all raise alarm about Palmer’s association with leaders of the refuge occupation.

The state agency, which licenses police officers, has asked the state Department of Justice to investigate. The licensing agency notified Palmer by letter dated Feb. 11 about its intentions, warning that if violations of police standards are found, he could face revocation of his police certification.

Document: Letter requesting state investigation

Palmer, sheriff since 2000 and now seeking re-election, didn’t respond to requests for comment left in telephone and email messages.

The licensing agency can take a range of actions against Palmer’s police certification, up to revocation. The agency, however, has no authority to remove Palmer from office since he is an elected official. A recall election could remove him. State law also requires sheriffs to have police officer certification.

Palmer has drawn criticism for his association with the armed militants who took over the wildlife refuge on Jan. 2. Ammon Bundy, the Idaho businessman who led the takeover, invited Palmer to visit the occupied refuge headquarters. Palmer declined, but subsequently met with some of the occupation leaders.

“I have a great public safety concern when the Grant County sheriff is allowed to openly meet with and be part of this group of lawbreakers,” said John Day Police Chief Richard Gray in his complaint.

Document: Police Chief Richard Gray’s complaint

Gray submitted radio dispatch logs to show that on Jan. 12 Palmer spent 3 ½ hours with militia leaders in John Day. Three days later, Gray said, Palmer met at his office in Canyon City with two men believed to be involved in the occupation and a woman Gray identified as Shawna Cox. She now is facing a federal charge for her role in the occupation.

Gray’s new information added to what The Oregonian/OregonLive previously has reported about Palmer’s visits with occupation leaders, who traveled roughly 100 miles north from the refuge to reach Palmer.

Ryan Payne, a Montana militiaman who was the tactical leader of the refuge takeover, said in an interview that Palmer shared the militants’ views. Payne is now in jail facing federal charges for both the Oregon takeover and his role in the 2014 armed standoff in Nevada involving rancher Cliven Bundy.

One of the other militants who met with Palmer, Jon Ritzheimer of Arizona, said he and Payne autographed Palmer’s pocket copy of the Constitution at the sheriff’s request. Ritzheimer also is facing a federal charge for his role in the occupation.

On the day of the traffic stop, Ammon Bundy and other occupation leaders were heading for a town hall meeting in John Day. Bundy and the others were to address the community meeting, as was Palmer. It was organized by local residents who sympathized with Bundy’s anti-government stand. Palmer was unaware that the FBI and state police planned to act against Bundy and others that day, according to law enforcement sources and Palmer’s Facebook posts.

Finicum, 54, of Utah, tried to elude police after that stop, repeatedly telling officers that he had a meeting with Palmer. Cox, who was in Finicum’s truck that afternoon, said the occupiers believed Palmer could protect them.

Finicum was shot after he encountered a roadblock, left his truck and reached for a loaded handgun, according to the FBI.

Gray, the John Day police chief, said in his complaint that Palmer assured local police officials in a meeting the day before the shooting that he didn’t plan to attend the community meeting. Gray said when he learned of the shooting the next day, he called Palmer at home, learning he wasn’t there.

In fact, Palmer was in uniform attending the community meeting and preparing to speak.

Valerie Luttrell, emergency communications manager for John Day 911, described in her own complaint the circumstances in the dispatch center leading up to the shooting.

“The John Day 911 Dispatch Center staff are constantly taking calls for Glenn Palmer giving praise to his support of the armed occupation at the Malheur refuge,” Luttrell wrote.

“Sheriff Palmer’s blatant disregard for the potential consequences of pushing his personal agenda over the safety of the general public that he is sworn to protect is at the very least an ethical transgression,” she wrote.

She described how dispatchers were concerned when they learned Palmer was heading for the roadblock set up by Oregon State Police near Seneca in Grant County to stop traffic from getting to the shooting scene farther south.

“Glenn Palmer is viewed as a security leak, not only by local law enforcement staff but by the Oregon State Police and FBI,” she said.

Luttrell said that when Palmer advised he was heading to the roadblock with a passenger, dispatchers assumed he was taking a militiaman with him. Luttrell said dispatchers warned state troopers at the roadblock of that possibility. In fact, the passenger was Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter.

Document: Valerie Luttrell’s complaint

Only one of the six citizens who filed separate complaints against Palmer allowed the state to disclose their identity. Palmer was being provided copies of all the complaints, state officials said.

The citizen complaints echoed a common theme – that Palmer’s association with militants put the community at risk.

“If our sheriff is supporting illegal actions or militants and inviting them into our community, how can we as citizens of Grant County feel safe?” one complainant asked.

“I am concerned that Mr. Palmer has abandoned all neutrality and is actively making Grant County a safe haven for government dissenters,” wrote another.

One complainant chastised Palmer for referring to the armed protesters as “patriots” when they had committed “acts of vandalism, misuse of public property, and harassment against the people of Harney County.”

Palmer later referred to the police operation as an “ambush,” a description that drew a sharp rebuke from the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, which represents all 36 elected sheriffs.

The appearance of the militants in Grant County and Palmer’s association with them stirred concerns that the protesters intended to stake a second camp in the John Day area.

People opposed to the militia presence have asked county officials to declare their own opposition. A resolution to do so has been hotly debated by residents at recent weekly meetings of the Grant County Court, which functions as the board of commissioners. The court has scheduled yet a third session on the resolution for next Wednesday.

— Les Zaitz


9 thoughts on “Grant County sheriff viewed as ‘security leak’ as state seeks investigation

  1. So Palmer, Sheriff, top law official in the jurisdiction, was willing to meet and speak with peaceful protesters, regarding the rights of citizens, and this makes him a bad guy.

    A patriot is someone who stands up against the tyranny of government.
    The Sheriff works for the people.
    * Sheep are people with no balls and no intelligence to defend their own rights and the rights of their own children.

    And the tyranny bastards that set up the road block and killed an innocent man in cold blood are the good guys?

    WTF is wrong with this picture.

    The fact the Palmer would meet and speak peacefully with those defending their land and their rights makes him a hero.

  2. “WTF is wrong with this picture”. I’ll tell you what’s wrong, it is a mental disease that has spread from Oregon to the entire country. The numbers of sheep with no balls, is legion. Some are just outright cowards, since birth, and others are too fearful to get on a list, still others love the feeling of groveling before tyranny. Pathetic!

  3. Security leak….
    Oh my god .. gotta go..
    Be right back….
    Whoahhh… held that one for security.
    The worlds a safer place now!
    Hang in there people.
    We’re just about to hit the top of the roller coaster.
    I always would stick my hands up and say I gotta pee!
    The other one was screaming …
    Oh my god that fkng bolt is loose on the rail!!!
    In my experience people’s and the moral of the story is:
    Don’t sit in the back of the ride.
    There will be less sht hitting you on the coaster of life.

  4. Never underestimate the power of propaganda. We ha e been bombarded by this for our entire lives. This has been a long time coming. It is not over. It is just beginning to become evident to more people (moo/baa).
    We all have a choice. Good, bad. Him, her. Up, down…
    It is true that we have free choice. But what if the choices are manipulated to make us think otherwise?
    Information is a key tool in establishing decisions, especially critical ones. If the information is incorrect, or ‘tainted’, then our decisions will be incorrect or skewed because of it.
    We, on this and other like-minded sites, realized the problems and frustrations when dealing with people (moo/baa) on this and similar subjects related to it.
    It very difficult to ‘de-program’ anyone who is not willing to listen to reason. Closed minds are like jail cells wrapped in a freezer, wrapped in re-enforced concrete, wrapped in … you get the idea…
    Anyone standing up to those in power, will always be branded as trouble makers because they don’t go along with the ‘herd’ mentality.
    Remember history.

  5. “I felt uncomfortable knowing that I had to relay vital and confidential information to someone who may not be trustworthy,” the dispatcher later told her supervisor.

    The dispatcher is a commie mole. The people support Sheriff Palmer (only 6 complaints against him, probably all from Jews) but the commies want him crushed.

    There’s no shortage of commies operating at the local level, and just as they infiltrated the school system when we were younger, they’re taking over small local governments now. (and have been for a long time). They creep in and remain mostly silent until there are enough of them to wield a little power, and then the tyranny of commie Jew becomes obvious.

  6. The only ‘mental disease’ in Oregon was brought here from other states – Nevada, Arizona, Utah & Idaho.

    ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
    ……….”…\………. _.·´

    BTW, Henry lives here too, d#ckwad.

    1. I went to HS and college(OSU) in Oregon. I am a 5th generation Oregonian.
      I’d add New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey and California to your list of “mental disease” contributors.
      Although I do see what you were alluding to.

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