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Law Enforcement Presence Could Increase In Harney County

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, left, speaks as Judge Steven Grasty looks on during a news conference Monday, Jan. 4.

Harney County Sheriff David Ward, left, speaks as Judge Steven Grasty looks on during a news conference Monday, Jan. 4.

Rick Bowmer/AP

As an armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge enters its fourth day, Harney County Sheriff David Ward said police from other counties will begin patrolling streets in the area.

In a video message published Monday night, Ward said outside law enforcement would be patrolling Harney County roads, and streets in Burns and Hines.

“These folks aren’t here to harass the citizens of Harney County,” Ward said. “They’re here to help us maintain a safe and secure environment while we work through the issues at hand.”


In a new video message, Sheriff Ward talks to the public about outside agency patrols in #HarneyCounty — and shares a few words of thanks and encouragement.

Posted by Harney County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, January 4, 2016

An armed group led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy took over the wildlife refuge Saturday. The pair are the sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and traveled to Oregon originally to protest the imprisonment of Burns ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond.

The Hammonds reported to federal prison Monday to serve sentences for starting fires on federally managed lands.

Ward also delivered a speech shortly after the Hammonds reported to prison.

“You said you were here to help the citizens of Harney County,” Ward said, addressing the Bundys. “That help ended when a peaceful protest became an armed and unlawful protest.

“The Hammonds have turned themselves in. It is time for you to leave our community. Go home, be with your own families and end this peacefully.”

Speaking to OPB late Monday, Ryan Bundy said the armed occupiers don’t see Ward as the sole “decider” on whether they should leave the county, but he did say they’ll listen to the will of the people who live in the area.

“This is their county — we can’t be here and force this on them,” Bundy said. “If they don’t want to retrieve their rights, and if the county people tell us to leave, we’ll leave.”

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