In a letter dated June 17,2013, Eldorado County (Placerville) California sheriff John D’Agostini notified the United States Forest Service that he was stripping their Law Enforcement and Investigations unit of assumed authority to interfere with state laws in that county. When questioned by news reporters, D’Agostini refused to go into detail, saying only that he was responding to multiple complaints from county citizens.
This puzzling lack of detail confounded the story for several weeks while the sheriff’s office remained silent. When the sheriff’s media spokesman, Lt. Tim Becker, did not return our several phone calls. Another officer answering the phone finally gave this writer the hidden hint to look at the sheriff’s Mission Statement that appears at their website:
“The mission of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office is to uphold the law through the investigation and enforcement of criminal and civil law, to provide leadership and law enforcement support to allied law enforcement agencies, to deliver consistent and humane treatment to those placed in our care and custody, and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of our community and faithful to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.”
Sheriff D’Agostini is a member of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) and may have been attempting to play down a story that now appears as gun harassment activity by the Feds. El Dorado National Forest is a favorite summer and wintertime playground for both locals and out-of-state tourists, but many have said they will not return. When county citizen Cory Ward came forward to tell of his harassment, the floodgates were opened and more than 50 others followed with reports to the sheriff. All were similar in nature of the firearms interrogation.
Ward frequents El Dorado but feels intimidated by the armed officers who stop anyone whenever they feel like it.
“They want to know what you’re doing here, where are you going and do you have any firearms on board,” he told CBS Sacramento and added that he has compiled a long list of complaints against federal officers there, as he fears his favorite place “is turning into a police state.”
Another unnamed man reported being cuffed and forced to stand in the snow while an officer dumped his luggage, sifted through his clothing and finally confiscated his camping hatchet and threatened to arrest him for “possession of a weapon on federal property.” He never went back to the park.
The legal situation will soon come down to who really has the right to carry guns on federal property within county jurisdiction. The edict became official on July 22, with no new confrontations reported at press time.
Pat Shannan is an AFP contributing editor and the author of several best-selling videos and books.
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