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Barry County Prosecutor releases statement following calls for sheriff resignation

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BARRY COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS)—- The Barry County Prosecutors’ office issued a statement today, in regards to calls for the county sheriff to resign, due to his ties with the men accused of plotting to Kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Read the full statement below:

On behalf of the Barry County Prosecutor’s Office, we want to express our deepest sympathy for the public officials and their families, as well as the law enforcement officers affected by the alleged plot to kidnap and harm them.  We are grateful to the US Attorney’s Office, Attorney General Dana Nessel, the FBI and Michigan State Police for their coordinated efforts to the keep the Governor, her family, the legislators, the staff of the Capitol, and fellow law enforcement safe.  We commend officers for their thorough investigation.  The message should be loud and clear:  there is no place for crimes of violence in our society.  This case is ongoing by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office, and all defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

As the chief law enforcement officer for Barry County, I must address the recent statement made by Sheriff Dar Leaf regarding citizen arrests.  His statement should in no way be taken to represent the position of this office or the many selfless, hard-working members of the Barry County law enforcement community.   Sheriff Leaf is not a lawyer, nor is he licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan, yet he inaccurately cited a law that is inapplicable and is meant to aid the very citizens and law enforcement he is sworn to protect.  As a prosecutor, I find this concerning.  There is no logical, legal or ethical basis for statements that defend or condone behavior that threatens the safety of Governor Whitmer, fellow law enforcement, or any other citizen in this country. 

In Barry County, we have dedicated, fair and honest law enforcement officers in every department.  Sheriff Leaf’s statements are his own.  They do not and should not tarnish the honor and respect for law enforcement in Barry County and throughout the country.  We as leaders should set an example for those that look to us for guidance, strength and hope.  I ask for patience with the justice system, support for those whose lives were placed in danger, and that we continue to look out for one another. 

Respectfully submitted

Julie Nakfoor Pratt, Barry County Prosecutor

Calls for Leaf to resign came, after he told WXMI-TV that maybe the men wanted to arrest Whitmer, not kidnap her, and suggested that could be legal.

2 of the brothers charged under the state’s anti-terrorism law by Attorney General Dana Nessel appeared on stage in May at a protest in Grand Rapids against Whitmer’s stay-at-home order that was also attended by the sheriff and Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey.

Nessel, a Democrat, told the AP that Leaf’s remarks were “terrifying.”

“To suggest that it is proper for armed gunmen who are not licensed law enforcement officers to execute an arrest on a sitting governor for policy disagreements is abhorrent to me on every level,” she said.

In an interview with WWMT out of Kalamazoo, Leaf said, he didn’t have any regrets.

“Why would I have any regrets? I have no idea any of this was being planned. He was actually security at the event and I was giving a speech,” Leaf said during that interview.

Leaf has said, he doesn’t support any plot to kidnap the governor or overthrow the government.

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