Sheriffs Stand Tall

By Pat Shannan

LAS VEGAS, Nev.—More than 100 sheriffs and deputies from 32 states around the nation gathered at the Las Vegas Tuscany Hotel on January 30 to learn facts that many had never heard before regarding their lawful authority in their own home counties.

The Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) meeting invited speakers with new ideas on old laws that sent these officers home with a new attitude about protecting their citizenry.

The bottom line was to inform and remind sheriffs that they are the highest law enforcement officers in the county because they are the only ones elected by the people. The elected sheriff’s position overrides any federal agency or even the arrogant FBI agents who attempt to assume jurisdiction over cases.


Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, founder of CSPOA and master of ceremonies for the day, brought on constitutional expert and 2004 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik. Badnarik’s most impressive point was that the No. 1 lawbreaker in many of their counties was not the usual nocturnal criminal element but those broad-daylight federal agency lawbreakers.

Former IRS criminal investigator Joe Banister first confessed to being one of those lawbreakers and then explained what had caused him to reform. Unlike most in his position, he had taken his oath seriously. When he discovered that he could not perform the duties of his job without violating the oath he took before God, he resigned—but not before requesting that his superiors show him the law requiring people to file taxes. He also wanted his superiors to explain why his assignments required that he violate his oath and people’s rights but was refused comment.

Instead of responding to his questions, his superiors accepted his resignation “effective immediately.” Joe’s loyalty to his oath cost him an $80,000 position (approximately double that today), further harassment and four trumped-up charges that he later beat in a full-blown criminal jury trial in 2005. In more recent years, Banister has lost his CPA license due to unrelenting IRS chicanery.

Long before he ever heard of CSPOA, Sheriff Dave Mattis kicked the IRS out of Sheridan County, Wyoming because he knew they were operating unlawfully. Sheriff Tommy DeMao reported that he tells every federal invader that comes into his county, “Do not come back with a paper signed by a bureaucrat but a warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Pat Shannan

Pat Shannan is an AFP contributing editor and the author of several best-selling videos and books.