Washington- Congressman Chris Stewart (R-Utah) has called to cut funding for excessive “paramilitary units” used by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management in the wake of the standoff between Cliven Bundy and the BLM.
Stewart is worried about the heavily armed forces at the helm of the BLM, and he is also concerned about the same type of forces that other federal agencies have in place. On Tuesday Stewart spoke off the House floor, criticizing the fact that several federal departments have incredibly overwhelming, and largely unnecessary, firepower.
Earlier this month it was reported that numerous armed agents surrounded Bundy’s property in response to a dispute over grazing rights. After a tense standoff between the agents and protesters, the BLM forces left the area and ended up pursuing alternative methods to approach the conflict with Bundy.
While Stewart is in a neutral position regarding the incident between Bundy and the BLM, he was troubled that the agency had reacted by bringing its own special forces to the Bundy Ranch.
“There are lots of people who are really concerned when the BLM shows up with its own SWAT team,” Stewart said. “They’re regulatory agencies; they’re not paramilitary units, and I think that concerns a lot of us.”
Stewart would prefer that the BLM and others use local police resources instead of massive squads such as the ones that were called to the Bundy Ranch. “They should do what anyone else would do,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “Call the local sheriff, who has the capability to intervene in situations like that.”
The Department of The Interior defended the use of special forces in the Bundy-BLM conflict, saying that the forces were there to protect the public and federal agents.
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