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Saunders County Sheriff says he’s not seeking civilians’ help

Saunders County Sheriff says he’s not seeking civilians’ help

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WAHOO – A recent social media post suggesting that Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz is enlisting civilians to help with law enforcement operations is not true, Stukenholtz said Monday.

A recent Facebook post by a group called Oath Keepers claimed that Stukenholtz “wishes to meet patriots and citizens interested in helping out should unrest and calamity befall us in the coming months.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist groups in the United States, says Oath Keepers is “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today.”

The Oath Keepers group claimed that Stukenholtz would be in attendance for a meeting to discuss civilian assistance.

The post said Stukenholtz “has mentioned concealed carry permits as a way to select people he would help train.” It also described plans for members to meet at a park near 192nd Street and West Dodge Road in the event of a civil disturbance.

Stukenholtz said he isn’t involved with the group and his name was being used without his permission. He said “it’s ridiculous” to believe that he would deputize civilians with concealed carry permits.

“I was contacted several months ago by a man who said he represented people willing to help out with things like searching for lost children and directing traffic at large events,” Stukenholtz said. “I found out that (the group) posted that I was going to be present at a meeting, and I never attended that meeting and never confirmed that I would be at the meeting. They used my name without my permission, and I am not involved in any of their activities.”

Kenneth Hall of Omaha, who is identified as the Region 6 director of Oath Keepers in Nebraska, didn’t immediately return a message Monday seeking comment.

An article in the November edition of “The Atlantic” describes Oath Keepers as a militant group that has drawn in thousands of people from the military and law-enforcement communities.

In the article, Stewart Rhodes, who founded Oath Keepers in 2009, said he sees his role as defending President Donald Trump. The article notes that he had put out a call for his followers to protect the country against what he was calling an “insurrection.” Rhodes told the reporter that recent civil unrest is the latest attempt to undermine the president.

Stukenholtz posted a statement Sept. 30 on the Saunders County Sheriff’s Facebook page denying involvement with the group.

“The Saunders County Sheriff’s Office is always very appreciative of the community support that we receive on a daily basis. We are contacted by groups offering assistance of some type to our department several times a year which we value and respect. The Saunders County Sheriff’s Office is not currently using any groups to assist us for law enforcement operations. Any group portraying such affiliation with us is misleading and not true.”

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