Interior boss blasts fired Utah BLM law enforcement agent

In memo to Interior employees, deputy secretary makes example of controversial ex-Utah BLM lawman Dan Love, vow to clean up land agencies and protect those who report abuse.

A top Interior Department official has singled out the recent firing of a controversial Bureau of Land Management agent over Utah to illustrate a renewed commitment to hold accountable senior employees who misuse their official positions and to protect those who report such abuse.

Dan Love, who once led law enforcement for the BLM’s Nevada and Utah state offices, was fired not long after an Aug. 24 report from Interior’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) faulting him a second time for official misconduct, according to a memo circulated Friday by Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.

Continue reading

Despite varied opinions, Utah Wildlife Board votes to increase number of cougar hunting permits

ST. GEORGE — The Utah Wildlife Board voted Thursday to allow an additional 50 hunting permits for cougars to be issued in the upcoming 2017-18 hunting season.

The motion to increase the number of permits from 531 to 581, several of which include areas in Southern Utah, was approved unanimously in a public meeting in Salt Lake City by the board, which is composed of seven citizens appointed by the governor.

Thursday’s decision followed an extensive period of public comment during which the proposal received criticism from wildlife advocates and support from hunting associations and livestock industry representatives.

In a presentation at the meeting, Darren DeBloois, game mammals coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the increase in hunting permits coincides with an observed increase in the cougar population as the state’s mule deer population also rises.

Continue reading

Judge sets October trial for rancher Cliven Bundy, others

A federal judge on Thursday set an October trial date for seven Bunkerville standoff defendants, including rancher Cliven Bundy.

Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Idaho, where at least five defendants lived before being arrested, are asking U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to release the four Idaho defendants who remain in custody.

An Aug. 29 letter authored by Idaho Rep. Dorothy Moon, a Republican, and signed by 38 other state legislators references recent acquittals in the case. A copy of the letter, addressed to Sessions, was sent to President Donald Trump.

“Further exploitation of these citizens would be an affront to justice and notice to the public of prosecutorial harassment,” the letter states.

Steven Stewart of Idaho and Ricky Lovelien of Montana were found not guilty in August during a retrial in which Scott Drexler and Eric Parker, both Idaho residents, were acquitted of a majority of charges they faced.

Continue reading

How Insurance Companies Can Force Bad Cops Off the Job

Although an outside company exerting influence on local police may not seem compatible with good governance, there are hidden advantages to insurers’ monitoring police departments and suggesting improvements. For one, insurance companies are apolitical. “I think the debates about policing have become so fraught and so inflammatory,” Rappaport told me. “To have this big, well-heeled institution saying, ‘We’re not interested in that debate, we just want to get those numbers down’—it can make reform more palatable because it takes the electricity out.”

Cash-strapped cities, meanwhile, can benefit from the services offered by liability insurers, from police training sessions and applicant screening to data-driven insights gleaned from the insurer’s work with other municipalities. In Irwindale, there were biweekly meetings with an outside risk manager; hundreds of hours of training sessions for police officers on topics like sexual harassment and use of force; and outside reviews of all internal-affairs investigations. The department had 18 months to clean up its act in order to keep its coverage. “I’ve never seen such a thing in my whole career,” Miranda said. “I’m going on 27 years.”

Continue reading