Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland, 62, is being pressured to turn in his badge
An Idaho county prosecutor as well as a city mayor and its police force are calling on a county sheriff to resign, following claims he threatened a youth church group by pointing a gun at them over concerns they might have been ‘drunk Indians’.
Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers and Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll on Friday called on Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland, 62, to step down.
The Idaho attorney general’s office last week charged Rowland with aggravated battery, aggravated assault and misdemeanor exhibition of a gun. State investigators accused him of threatening a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints youth group with a firearm.
The group had dropped a thank-you note off at his front door prior to the threat.
In court documents, investigators with the Idaho Attorney General’s office wrote that the religious youth group was participating in an activity on November 9 where they delivered door-to-door thank-you notes to members of the congregation.
The girls, aged 12 to 16, taped the notes to the church-goers’ doors and then rang their doorbells, running away before they could be seen.
After the group of Church of Latter-day saints girls placed the thanksgiving thank you note (pictured) on Sheriff Rowland’s property, he chased them down and grabbed their chaperone driver by her hair, fixing a gun on her head, before telling them to never come back
Seven of the youth group members and an adult leader went to Rowland’s neighborhood to leave a note for the sheriff and his wife, according to court documents.
In separate interviews with investigators, members of the youth group and Rowland both reportedly said that after the group left the note, Rowland stopped their car from driving away, pulled the adult driver out of the vehicle – who he had known for 30 years – by her hair and pointed his handgun at her head, yelling profanities at her, such as ‘get the f**k out of the car.’
After the chaperone clarified that the group was only dropping off a Thanksgiving card, Rowland reportedly told the woman and young girls to never come back to his property again, before letting them go.
Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll called for Rowland’s resignation, after saying that the sheriff had ‘admitted to physically assaulting a neighbor and threatening her with his service handgun.’
‘A trusted Law Enforcement officer has admitted to physically assaulting a neighbor and threatening her with his service handgun,’ Carroll wrote in a statement released on Friday calling for Rowland to resign.
Rogers, a local prosecutor, said in his statement that at ‘some point the damage to the Sheriff’s Office becomes irreparable regardless of the outcome of the newly-filed case.’
Rowland agreed to take a leave of absence shortly after the allegations arose in November, but returned to the job several weeks ago. Rowland has said he has received threats in recent months and worried about people coming to his home.
He has not yet entered a plea on the charges.
‘I have been doing this job for 36 years,’ Rowland said in an affidavit released by state prosecutors, in which he also disparaged the people on the nearby Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ Fort Hall Reservation, referencing intoxication and calling them ‘not good people’ and saying their proximity was the reason for his actions.
‘I’ve had drunk Indians drive down my cul-de-sac, I’ve had drunk Indians come to my door,’ Rowland said, according to court documents. ‘I live just off of the reservation, we have a lot of reservation people around us that are not good people.’
The Shoshone-Bannock tribes have also called on Rowland to resign through a statement posted on Facebook
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is a recognized by the U.S. government as sovereign nation located in southeast Idaho.
The tribes, which are federally recognized as a sovereign nation, have also called on Rowland to resign, calling his statements racist.
‘We ask Rowland to officially step down as Sheriff and offer a public apology to the Fort Hall community,’ Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer said in the statement last week.
‘Rowlands [sic] use of racial slurs about “Indians” is extremely offensive,’ Boyer added. ‘Local law enforcement has a long history of violent criminal conduct towards tribal community members, stemming back decades. Race relations between local law enforcement has been controversial and sometimes violent.’