Chesterfield sheriff says deputy was member of Oath Keepers

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 5:14 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2022 at 7:17 AM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard said that he was made aware that one of his deputies was a member of the Oath Keepers after a list of names was leaked.

A release from Leonard said the Sheriff’s Office was made aware Wednesday after the Associated Press published an article naming hundreds of law enforcement officers who were members of the organization.

Leonard said the deputy, whose name was not released, was hired in 2018, left on active-duty military orders in Sept. 2021 for an overseas assignment, and is not set to return until next year.

“As a Constitutional Officer, I will always defend individual constitutional rights. Memberships in an organization such as Oath Keepers, as well as many other groups, is a protected 1st Amendment right. However, if at any time the line is crossed to violence, any criminal act, or any actions discriminatory in any fashion, swift action will be taken as that behavior will never be acceptable or tolerated,” Leonard said.

According to a report from the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, the deputy offered to help the organization, writing, “I’m not sure that I have any talents that aren’t already available or really useful. Outside of the military, I’m a graphic designer (AAS - Visual Communications) and self-storage assistant. I’ve worked for education publishing, newspapers, magazines, etc., doing image creation, ad layouts, flyers, brochures, design, and so forth … I am happy to assist with whatever I can though, whether it’s with people, events, promotions, whatever.”

The report from ADL reports that in Virginia, there were a total of 1,091 Oath Keeper signups. Of those 1,091, 25 people are members of the following professions:

  • Elected Officials - 1
  • Law Enforcement - 6
  • Military - 15
  • First Responders - 3

Appearing in the Oath Keepers’ database does not prove that a person was ever an active member of the group or shares the same ideologies, according to the ADL.