Police trained on growing threat of 'sovereign citizens' - 8 News NOW

Police trained on growing threat of 'sovereign citizens'

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LAS VEGAS -- Before the deadly shooting rampage Sunday that left two police officers and a bystander dead, 8 News NOW had learned that Metro Police were getting training on how to identify and deal with "domestic terrorists.”

Terrorism experts say the suspects in the shooting, Jerad and Amanda Miller, are very like sovereign citizens, a loosely formed movement full of anti-government beliefs. The FBI has now classified "sovereign citizens" as "domestic terrorists.”

Experts say certain followers will use violence to further their cause, like what happened Sunday.

Last month, 75 Metro Police and law enforcement agents gathered for a six-hour training course on how to identify these types of groups. The goal is to have patrol officers and first responders ready to recognize the signs.

“In this two and half hours, I am going to teach you to walk away with something that may save your life," senior investigator Britton Schaefer said.

From the inside of the darkened room, patrol officers received information about a looming threat. The investigators say the "sovereign citizen" movement is growing.

“They're going to go after your police chief. They're going to go after the city council. They're going to go after the district attorney," Schaefer said.

Before the shootings that would kill two officers, a former cop taped this training session last month to share online with police departments across the country.

"While many people have regarded this in the past as a bunch of fruit-loop wackos with strange ideas, these are a group of wackos, or a percentage of them, that are resorting to violence and domestic terrorism," former police officer Clinton Billups said.

These officers learned traffic stops are often where sovereign citizens will refuse to cooperate with police:

"Sovereign citizens, when asked for identification, will very often present a driver’s license that they prepared themselves." Billups said.

Investigators say that is because they don't recognize the federal government.

"Obviously, they don't want to have that ID because it is a contract with the state," Schaefer said.

Billups says when officers ask for registration, sovereign citizens often have a single reply, "I have no responsibility to provide you with that information. Under whose authority do you ask?"

Much like accused shooter Jerad Miller; investigators say many sovereign citizens have spent time behind bars, growing angrier at the police, the judge and the government who put them there.

Now, the hope is that officers will have the tools they need to stay safe in the face of this growing and potentially dangerous movement.

The video of that Metro training session will only be released to law enforcement. It's still in the final stages of editing but will be available to other agencies some time in the next few months.

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