HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf says he is staying put, despite citizens’ efforts to have him removed.
“I’m not resigning,” he said.
Some are concerned about his relationship with men now charged in the kidnap plot against the governor and recent comments on the case.
About 40 people showed up at the County Commission meeting Tuesday morning. While some spoke against Leaf, a majority spoke in support of the sheriff.
“Why I came out in support of Dar Leaf? Because he’s a good sheriff, he’s a constitutionalist, he is a good American and all this other stuff is just BS,” said Alvin Warren, who spoke in support of the sheriff.
It stayed mostly peaceful. Firearms were banned inside. Militia members were present, but they didn’t bring long guns or wear camo gear like they had in the past.
At one point, a verbal argument broke out with opposing sides yelling at each other before the meeting.
Multiple Michigan State Police troopers were present. No one became violent.
“What really alarms me the most is that he is giving his approval to these extremists and militia and he is enabling them and giving them encouragement to ramp up their actions by standing with them,” said Scott Savage, who is requesting the sheriff’s resignation.
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt sent a statement about Leaf’s comments:
On behalf of the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office, we want to express our deepest sympathy for the public officials and their families, as well as the law enforcement officers affected by the alleged plot to kidnap and harm them. We are grateful to the US Attorney’s Office, Attorney General Dana Nessel, the FBI and Michigan State Police for their coordinated efforts to the keep the Governor, her family, the legislators, the staff of the Capitol, and fellow law enforcement safe. We commend officers for their thorough investigation. The message should be loud and clear: there is no place for crimes of violence in our society. This case is ongoing by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office, and all defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
As the chief law enforcement officer for Barry County, I must address the recent statement made by Sheriff Dar Leaf regarding citizen arrests. His statement should in no way be taken to represent the position of this office or the many selfless, hard-working members of the Barry County law enforcement community. Sheriff Leaf is not a lawyer, nor is he licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan, yet he inaccurately cited a law that is inapplicable and is meant to aid the very citizens and law enforcement he is sworn to protect. As a prosecutor, I find this concerning. There is no logical, legal or ethical basis for statements that defend or condone behavior that threatens the safety of Governor Whitmer, fellow law enforcement, or any other citizen in this country.
In Barry County, we have dedicated, fair and honest law enforcement officers in every department. Sheriff Leaf’s statements are his own. They do not and should not tarnish the honor and respect for law enforcement in Barry County and throughout the country. We as leaders should set an example for those that look to us for guidance, strength and hope. I ask for patience with the justice system, support for those whose lives were placed in danger, and that we continue to look out for one another.
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt
The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association board of directors also released a statement on Tuesday condemning Leaf’s comments.
Tuesday’s requests for the sheriff’s resignation was mostly symbolic. Unless he voluntarily resigned, removing the sheriff would require an order by the governor.