By Katy Nesbitt
For Wallowa Valley Online
ENTERPRISE, Ore – Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers has been elected to the Western Sheriff’s Association executive board. Rogers will serve as one of six directors guiding policy for the 1,000-member body representing 17 states.
Rogers said he was nominated by Brian Wolfe, sheriff of Malheur County, and elected March 6 at the Association’s winter conference in Reno, Nev., one of three nominees vying for two director positions.
Just one sheriff per state can serve on the board at a time and Rogers said he is only the second Oregon sheriff to serve.
“The association gives western sheriffs a huge voice,” Rogers said.
The Association was formed in 1993, Rogers said, primarily to address law enforcement concerns on public lands. He said the Association also pays particular attention to upholding the first and second amendment rights of both citizens and police officers.
“The first amendment, especially with law enforcement, is getting trickier,” Rogers said. “We have to be very cautious about our actions and words – we can’t put someone in jail just because a protestor is yelling at a cop.”
At its winter conference the Association passed a resolution that considers gun violence, especially mass shootings in schools, in the larger context of violence and the erosion of families and society. Another resolution passed in March pushed back against a call to confiscate firearms from someone who has been “Red Flagged” as a societal threat, arguing there is an inherent risk of violating a citizens’ second, fourth and fifth amendment rights.
Another example of a resolution the directors passed in recent years was a one supporting increased funding for the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, two of the federal agencies with which sheriffs’ association members regularly interact. In 2016 the board wrote a letter supporting the sheriffs’ offices involved in the Malheur National Refuge siege led by armed militants.
Rogers said most of the meetings will be via videoconference, but a few he said he will attend in person, like the National Sheriffs’ Association annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky this June.
Rogers is serving his second term as Wallowa County Sheriff. He was first elected in 2012.