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The Role of a Sheriff
by John Bowman, Siskiyou Daily News July 17, 2012
On July 2, the San Francisco subsidiary of the Huffington Post, a prominent online news service, posted a blog titled “Above the law” by contributor Glen Martin.

In the blog, Martin refers to Lopey as an “outlier lawman” and criticizes his stance against state and federal environmental regulations, saying “Lopey has explicitly stated his disinclination to enforce state and federal laws that pertain to environmental protection.”

Martin cites Lopey’s leadership in Support Rural America rallies and townhall style public meetings - featuring panels of rural sheriffs discussing their grievances with state and federal actions - as examples of political activities that fall outside the usual line of duty for a county sheriff.

“The most disturbing aspect of Lopey's campaign,” states Martin, “is his apparent belief that he has the right to interpret as well as enforce the law. By deciding what regulations are ‘appropriate’ for Siskiyou County, he has overstepped his authority to an alarming degree.”

Martin also takes issue with Lopey’s position on the role of government regulation in the decline of the timber industry in northern California.

Martin asserts that the industry crash was the result of overharvest of old growth trees that first created a boom and later resulted in a bust when stands were wiped out. Though, he does concede that “a rational argument can be made for opening up the national forests to regulated selective logging to thin stands and provide some merchantable timber.”

According to Lopey, Martin’s assertions about the status of northstate forests - among other points - is incorrect.

“It is not accurate or truthful to state that we have no mature trees in Siskiyou County,” Lopey told the Daily News.

“I have read and been told by reliable sources that our forests have 10 times the fuel build-up that is normally acceptable in forestry policies of the past and currently,” Lopey said.

Lopey maintains that improper forest management is a public safety issue - and therefore falls within his purview - because it leads to catastrophic wildfires that destroy lives, homes and property.

In Lopey’s opinion, “the USFS is besieged by so many special interest groups and bureaucratic policies it is too difficult for them to make significant adjustments.”

In fact, according to Lopey, his efforts that fall outside of the commonly excepted role of law enforcement are all related to issues of public safety.

He also cites public safety as his motivation for fighting Klamath River dam removal efforts, claiming that the loss of the dams will be an economic blow to an already meager county economy, thereby increasing poverty, crime and domestic abuse and further reducing his department’s budget and ability to protect its citizens.

Additionally, he says he is concerned about the public health risk presented by the possibility of toxic sediment being released into the Klamath River during dam removal, though dam removal proponents say the sediment is safe.

“All people are asking for is a fair break to pursue life, liberty and happiness,” said Lopey. “In my opinion, this isn't happening because of over-regulation and foolish policies which are destroying our economy, traditions, public safety and the way we live.”

He adds, “Environmental extremism, overly ‘political correct’ policies, over-regulation, a general erosion of our constitutional rights and freedoms and the lack of common sense in Sacramento and Washington DC have helped to render this beautiful county one of the poorest in California and has served to precipitate an epidemic in drug abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse, alcohol abuse and other public safety problems which may be insurmountable in the immediate future.”


According to Martin, “The timber industry will never ‘come back,’ even if Lopey is declared Emperor of Northern California” – a title that Martin says Lopey “apparently covets,” insinuating that the sheriff may have his sights on higher political office in the future.

If Lopey “wants to engage in civil disobedience, fine,” says Martin “but he must take off his badge.”

He adds, “Cops are invested with great power over their fellow citizens. When they seek to extend that authority, they risk demagoguery. Lopey now walks that razor's edge.”

Online commenters to the blog post have also speculated that the sheriff may have his eye on a higher elected office in the future.

Lopey says he resents these accusations of political aspirations and asserts that there is no truth in them.

“I am a sheriff,” he told the Daily News. “I will remain the Sheriff of Siskiyou County as long as the people vote me into office. Should I no longer be voted into office as Sheriff, I can assure you that I have no aspirations for any other political office and you can take that to the bank and earn extra interest on it.”

For now, Lopey shows no interest in backing away from his fight against environmental agencies and their regulations. The question of whether Siskiyou County agrees with how he defines the role of a sheriff will be answered at the polls in 2014.


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