Barry Co. Sheriff makes Facebook post about creating a posse

Sheriff posts about creating posse
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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HASTINGS, Mich. (WILX) - A Michigan sheriff made a controversial Facebook post talking about starting a posse of citizens to look for criminal activity. In the post, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf claims that he has the power to recruit men 15 and older to “suppress rioting.”

The term he uses, “posse comitatus,” is Latin for “power of the county.” It’s the idea that a sheriff can call on citizens to help keep the peace.

News 10 reached out to Sheriff Leaf by phone, email and Facebook Messenger, but he wasn’t available to speak.

“Sheriff Leaf is correct that the concept of the sheriff being able to call out a posse still exists in the State of Michigan,” said Michael McDaniel, director of Cooley Law School’s homeland security program.

He says this posse is legal, but with decades of experience in the defense field, McDaniel believes it’s too risky.

“If the sheriff is appointing individuals who are untrained, not in uniform, inexperienced and have no ability to engage in a law enforcement process whatsoever, then I think the risk that you are opening yourself up to is just unfathomable to me,” he said.

“I think personally it’ll cause more conflict, but I don’t really think we need to have rioters because that causes issues, too,” said Dana Holmes who lives in Hastings.

There are dozens of comments on Sheriff Leaf’s post showing support. One person writes, “Sign me up whenever you need me.” However, Facebook shows that Sheriff Leaf has limited who can comment on the post.

News 10 reached out to all of the Barry County commissioners for comment but did not hear back.

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