BURNS, Ore. (AP) – Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward says he will resign at the end of 2019 because his department is underfunded and he’s concerned about liability from unlawful jail conditions.

Ward was the sheriff during a 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 by protesters who were angry about restrictions on federal land use.

In an opinion piece posted Wednesday, Ward says the rural county faces an $800,000 budget shortfall that’s the result of an accounting error and that is worsening the already woeful funding for the sheriff’s department there.

The letter was published in the Burns Times-Herald.

Ward says he is “no longer willing to accept the civil liability associated with the failure to appropriately fund/staff” the jail, search and rescue teams and other sheriff’s staff.

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