BLACKFOOT — A local Fraternal Order Police lodge calls for Sheriff Craig Rowland’s resignation as they pledge their support to the community.
The Snake River Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 said in a statement released Monday that it would be in the best interest of the community for Rowland to step down. The sheriff is accused of assaulting a church youth group who left a thank you note at his home in November before making disparaging remarks to investigators about a local tribal community.
“We are disheartened by the incident involving Bingham County Sheriff Rowland and comments made about our Native American neighbors,” the local FOP statement read. “Moreso by the cause and effect that has caused trust in our community to waver. All aspects of this event are unfortunate and just as concerning to our members.”
The Snake River Lodge comprises 125 members of the Blackfoot Police Department, Shelley Police Department, Idaho State Police, Fort Hall Tribal Police and Bingham County Sheriff’s Office. The lodge said they recognize the importance of trust between law enforcement and the community and Rowland’s alleged actions “may cause some to question that trust.”
“I have been doing this job for 36 years. I have had drunk Indians drive down my cul-de-sac,” Rowland told investigators, according to court documents. “I’ve had drunk Indians come to my door. I live just off the reservation. We have a lot of reservation people around us that are not good people.”
The FOP said in the statement they are dedicated to providing professional service to everyone. They said despite Rowland’s alleged actions they remain dedicated to serving the community with the level of professionalism and trust they deserve.
The first call for resignation came Thursday from the Shoshone Bannock Tribes who asked for Rowland to step down and issue a public apology. Blackfoot Mayor Marc Caroll, the Blackfoot Police Department and Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers echoed the tribes’ request, asking for Rowland to step aside on Friday.
“We also believe our members and law enforcement in Bingham County has overall had a strong working relationship with everyone we serve for decades, a relationship that can absolutely be repaired from the effects of this incident,” the FOP wrote. “Our members feel it may be in the best interest of the community for Sheriff Rowland to step down from his position to aide in that repair.”
Rowland is charged with felony aggravated battery, felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor exhibition of a gun. He has not yet entered a plea and is expected to make his first court appearance virtually on Wednesday.
Rowland took a two-week leave of absence during the investigation but returned to the job two weeks ago.