BLACKFOOT — Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll is calling upon Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland to resign and publicly apologize.
The Idaho Attorney General charged Rowland Tuesday with two felonies and a misdemeanor after he allegedly assaulted a youth group who left a thank you note at his home. When speaking with investigators about the incident, Rowland allegedly made disparaging remarks about people from the nearby Fort Hall Reservation.
Rowland took a two-week leave of absence but returned to the job two weeks ago.
“In order to protect the integrity of our Law Enforcement Agencies, the City of Blackfoot and the Blackfoot Police Department call for the immediate resignation and public apology to the Fort Hall community by Sheriff Craig Rowland,” Carroll said in his statement.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes called for Rowland’s resignation and a public apology Thursday. Carroll is now the first city official to also call for a resignation and is the first to speak out about the allegations of assault upon the youth group.
“A trusted law enforcement officer has admitted to physically assaulting a neighbor and threatening her with his service handgun,” Carroll said. “In a subsequent interview with an officer of the court, Sheriff Rowland provided information that was corroborated through interviews with those passengers in the accosted automobile.”
The three Bingham County Commissioners have individually issued statements following the disparaging comments but none of them addressed the fact that their Sheriff is charged with felony aggravated assault, felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor exhibition of a gun. They have not said whether Rowland should resign or remain in office.
Rowland’s attorney Justin Oleson attacked EastIdahoNews.com for publishing statements included in court documents and said this news organization is a tabloid that wishes to cause “drama and unrest.”
“That statement was taken completely out of context by the investigator and East Idaho News,” Oleson said to EastIdahoNews.com “It appears that occurred so that Sherriff (sic) Rowland’s name could be further slandered and his reputation tarnished by the media in an attempt to sway the jury of public opinion. Sherriff (sic) Rowland has had a good working relationship with the Shoshone Bannock Tribes and Tribal Members and has the utmost respect for his law-abiding neighbors on the reservation.”
Idaho Sheriff’s Association also issued a statement explaining Rowland is a past President of the organization and has served on its Board of Directors. The Association’s Executive Director Jeff Lavey said he asked Rowland to not represent himself as a board member pending the outcome of the criminal charges.
“We recognize that the crimes alleged are alarming, but all citizens are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” Lavey wrote in his statement. “Sheriff Rowland is afforded due process under the law just like any other citizen. It is our position as an association that the judicial system needs to be allowed to play its role through the adjudication process.”
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer said on Friday the council feels for the women and girls allegedly assaulted by Rowland. He also said now is a time for unity and while everyone makes mistakes, elected officials are expected to do the right things.
“I would hope that he would ask for forgiveness from his maker, because we all have the same one,” Boyer said. “I would hope that other people would understand that this can’t be tolerated — in this country, this reservation, or anywhere else. That time of bigotry, racism should be long behind us. We want to move forward with unity.”
Idaho Law limits Bingham County’s actions against a sheriff accused of a crime. The law states the officeholder would only be removed if convicted of a felony or any public offense involving a violation of their oath of office.
Rowland’s first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 22.