GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Facebook post made by the Barry County sheriff has raised concerns for community members who reached out to News 8.
In a post made by Sheriff Dar Leaf, he talks about posses and militias being more lawful than the authorities that have recently arrested members of those groups. Many are interpreting his post as a shot at the FBI’s investigation into the kidnapping plot of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Leaf touts himself as a constitutional sheriff, even offering classes on it. The sheriff has always been vocal but recently, he’s turned to social media to connect and rally people, speaking out against President Joe Biden and in support of militias and their members, among other things.
The latest post talks about sheriffs in Michigan having the ability to create a posse to ferret out or find criminal activity. He referenced the term “posse comitatus,” which is Latin for the power of the county.
Some supporters commented on the post saying they were ready to join.
Michael McDaniel, a professor of homeland security law at Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School, says Leaf has the right to create a posse, but added that those groups would more than likely be quickly put to an end.
“It’s really, in my opinion, obsolete in this day and age,” McDaniel said.
He says the Michigan Constitution makes it clear that common law, which is where this comes from, is incorporated only when it doesn’t contradict the constitution or other state laws.
“It certainly seems to me that if the sheriff was to use untrained, unlicensed, inexperienced members of the public as a law enforcement force, that he is opening up to the county of Barry board of supervisors to all sorts of liability because there is a statute that says the county board of supervisors have to indemnify the sheriff. If they did so, that would be very shortsighted,” McDaniel said.
He added that this idea that sheriffs hold more power because they are named in the constitution is false.
“They have no greater duty than any other law enforcement entity within the state,” McDaniel said.
Leaf was not available for comment when News 8 reached out.
The director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ association says it does not support the statement made by Leaf. The association has previously condemned statements the sheriff has made publicly.