Cherokee County Sheriff confirms upcoming training with extremist "Constitutional Sheriffs" group in Murphy
Cherokee County Sheriff Dustin Smith will cohost and speak at an upcoming training by a group who asserts that local sheriffs have ultimate constitutional power and may choose to ignore laws they deem unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a far-right group founded by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, plans to hold a day-long training event for law enforcement and a half-day seminar for local citizens on September 9 in Murphy, according to the group’s website. Mack has hosted similar events across the country.
CSPOA and Mack assert that local sheriffs may choose to ignore laws they deem unconstitutional. Mack is a former board member of Oath Keepers, an extremist group with members who participated in the January 6 attack.
The event, billed as "The County Sheriff, America's Last Hope," will be held “in collaboration with Cherokee County Sheriff Dustin Smith and local conservative grassroots organization 'Citizens for A Better America,'” according to the group's website.
A spokesperson for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office confirmed Smith's participation in the event.
As BPR and The Smoky Mountain News reported last year, the CSPOA promotes extreme perspectives such as the power of sheriffs over the federal government including taking back federal land, limiting immigration and arming every American.
Local sheriffs faced questions about constitutional power, particularly in regards to Second Amendment rights, in the most recent election.
In 2019, Cherokee County was one of the first counties to become a "Second Amendment sanctuary," a largely symbolic designation designed to reassure citizens that law enforcement will uphold the rights of citizens to bear arms.
The Center on Extremism released a report in 2021 alleging that the group recruits law enforcement into the anti-government “patriot” movement.
Sheriff Smith will be joined by Mack and Barry County Michigan Sheriff Darr Leaf at the event at the First Baptist Church in Murphy. According to Reuters, Leaf is the subject of an investigation by the Michigan attorney general for his role in the “Big Lie,” the false theory that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.