The Bureau of Land Management revealed today it is contemplating an overhaul of its law enforcement program — from the location of its headquarters to whether rangers should wear visible flak jackets.
Deputy Director Brian Steed discussed the pending modifications in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining.
“We’re quite active right now in reviewing all policies regarding our law enforcement,” Steed told Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R). An outspoken critic of BLM law enforcement, Lee has endorsed dissolving the agency’s police force and instead relying on local officers or FBI agents.
Steed provided few details about the potential reorganization — which comes as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is contemplating a broader overhaul of the entire department, as well as a potential relocation of BLM headquarters to a Western state.
Steed testified that BLM officials are evaluating whether the agency’s law enforcement “should be restructured to better fit organizational needs.”
“We absolutely are trying to increase our accountability to the American people by having the right personnel at the helms. We’re absolutely trying to change policy to make sure that we’re as accountable and responsive and as good at our job as possible,” Steed said at the hearing.
He noted that BLM has directed its officers to focus on “casework with direct ties to public lands,” including cross-border smuggling activities and the theft of mineral materials and historical objects.