Conservators of the Peace

Harney County

Sheriff Dave Ward

Harney County Sheriff's Office

485 Court St
Burns, OR 97720

tel: 541-573-6156
fax: 541-573-8383
Harney County Sheriff’s site

About Sheriff Ward

David Ward was appointed the new Harney County Sheriff and took his oath of office on January 2, 2015. He will serve out the remainder of Sheriff Dave Glerup’s term until the next general election in November 2016.

Sheriff Ward grew up in Drain, Oregon, a small rural community of about 1000 people in Douglas County, Oregon. After graduation, David enlisted in the United States Army where he served 21 years of combined service between active duty, the Oregon Army National Guard and the Army Reserves. During his military career he served as a Combat Medic, a PATRIOT Missile Systems Operator/Maintainer, and a Drill Sergeant, along with serving combat tours in Somalia and Afghanistan. Sheriff Ward started his law enforcement career as a Corrections Deputy with Lake County Sheriff ’s office in 2002 and also gained experience with the Oregon Department of Corrections in the Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lake County, Oregon. In 2005, David and his family moved to Burns while he continued working for the Lake County Sheriff ’s Office until 2007, when he was hired on with the Harney County Sheriff ’s Office. During Sheriff Ward’s law enforcement career, he has been certified as a Corrections Deputy, Parole and Probation Officer, and a Patrol Deputy. During his training at DPSST, David received the George L. Tooley Top Shooter Award, Victor G. Atiyeh Outstanding Student Award, and Defensive Tactics Award.

About the Harney County Sheriff's Office


Spring, 2016 – It was an extremely uncomfortable late fall and winter here in Harney County. A group of antigovernment protestors and militia members began coming into the area in early November demanding that I use my “authority as sheriff” to prevent two local ranchers from turning themselves in to serve the remainder of a mandatory minimum five-year court sentence, and that federal agencies be kicked out of the county. This group of protestors/militia made various threats over the course of several months including bloodshed, extreme civil unrest, civil war, and revolution.

After a protest organized by representatives of several militia groups on January 2, 2016, a group of heavily armed militants broke off and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge approximately 30 miles south of Burns.

These actions turned into a 41-day unlawful occupation and standoff with several tense situations in which heavily-armed militia groups wearing body armor confronted law enforcement on several different occasions. A large group of approximately 45-50 militia members, some carrying firearms, arrived at a town hall meeting at the high school with the intent of intimidating those who would speak out against them. Throughout the standoff various intimidation tactics toward citizens who disagreed with them, law enforcement, and employees of government agencies were used.

The standoff came to an end after two events. The first was a tactical traffic stop on January 26, 2016 in which most of the leadership was arrested and one militia member was killed. The second event was the surrender of the remaining four militia members on February 11, 2016. This case is still under investigation.

It took a joint effort of many agencies to bring this standoff to an end. The Harney County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, Oregon State Police, FBI, and every other agency that came to the aid of the citizens of Harney County. We would also like to thank the citizens of our community, state, and nation for the outpouring of love and support throughout this tense situation.

Congratulations to Corrections Deputies Matt Ellibee and Joseph Hittle who recently graduated from Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Basic Corrections Academy. Both deputies were awarded shooters pins. We are very happy to have both of these gentlemen back with our team!

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