Editor’s Note: Last month, Las Vegas Metro Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo were murdered by a couple espousing extremist views consistent with a group commonly known as Sovereigns. This movement poses an extreme threat to everyone who wears a badge. Sadly, the deaths of Officers Beck and Soldo were not the first attributable to this radical group and less than a year ago a plot to murder multiple officers was uncovered in the Las Vegas area. After that plot was revealed, Editor-in-Chief Dale Stockton interviewed Bob Paudert, former West Memphis Ark. chief of police and an expert on the Sovereign movement. His advice from that interview is information that every officer should review.
There’s probably no one on the face of the earth who has been more dramatically impacted by the Sovereign Citizen movement than Bob Paudert. In 2010, Paudert was the chief of police in West Memphis, Ark., when two of his officers were murdered by a father and son team who claimed to be Sovereigns. Worse yet, one of those murdered officers was Paudert’s own son, Brandon.
Since that fateful day, Paudert has been a man on a mission, telling everyone who will listen how dangerous this movement is and the extreme risk posed to law enforcement. He has crisscrossed the country and has spoken to thousands of officers, many of whom were totally unaware of the Sovereigns and the incredible danger posed to officers who come in contact with them.
I respect Bob Paudert a lot for what he does and I’m honored to call him a friend. He turned a horrific tragedy into a meaningful training program that is saving the lives of officers. That’s why I reached out to him after hearing about the plot to kidnap and kill police officers in Las Vegas. I asked him some questions about what we need to know and want to share his responses with each of you.
LO: What was your first thought/reaction when you heard about the plot by Sovereigns in Vegas?
Paudert: I was certainly not surprised to hear of the Las Vegas case. Law enforcement officers must understand we are their enemy.
LO: Do you believe this is an isolated incident or is there truly a danger associated with Sovereigns? Do you think other plots may be underway?
Paudert: They are plotting daily to kill officers all over this country. They are extremists and they are a greater threat to law enforcement than any group of international terrorists. Sovereigns are willing to kill and be killed for their beliefs. I use the West Memphis shooting as the best example I can give.The Kanes [the father and son who killed West Memphis Officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans] were willing to die for the cause. This isn’t an isolated case in Vegas. I think we can expect more attacks on our officers in the near future by this group.
LO: What’s important for every officer to understand about the Sovereign movement? What should they do if dealing with a Sovereign?
Paudert: Officers need to know Sovereigns can be deadly. They have to understand Sovereigns are against our government, our laws and our taxes, and they view LEOs as a threat. When encountering a Sovereign, officers should always call for backup. Never approach a Sovereign alone without a backup officer armed with a long gun. I can assure you if they’re armed, it will be with an assault rifle—and their weapon of choice is an AK-47. Never debate ideology with them. On a traffic stop, request the required documents: license, registration and proof of insurance. Do not accept the fraudulent documents they will attempt to give you. They will try to confuse the officer with documents explaining the Sovereign beliefs. Keep all encounters brief and to the point. Many will say they’re affiliated with a church or some religious organization in an effort to confuse officers. Please be aware of these tactics and remember to always call for backup!
The bottom line: This is timely and critical officer-safety information. Sovereigns are an insidious and looming threat to every law enforcement officer in this country. They must be taken seriously. Pass this on to every officer you know and help save a life.
Dale Stockton is a 32-year-veteran of law enforcement, having worked in all areas of police operations and investigations and retiring as a police captain from Carlsbad, California. He is a graduate of the 201st FBI National Academy and holds a Master’s degree in Criminology from the University of California, Irvine. He has served as a Commissioner for California POST, the agency responsible for all California policing standards and training. Dale is the former editor-in-chief of Law Officer Magazine and is the executive director of Below 100.