There is an interesting case developing in California where police have arrested three people, including Brandon Kiel, 31 (left), an aide to California Attorney General (and Senate candidate) Kamala Harris. Kiel and Tonette Hayes, 56, and David Henry, 46, were arrested for allegedly operating an illegitimate “police department” that traces its origins to the Knights Templar. They claimed to be running a 3000 year old police organization founded by the Templar Knights with jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico.
Kiel has been working as deputy director of community affairs at the California Department of Justice and is now on administrative leave.
Various police chiefs apparently raised concerns after receiving a letter announcing the new leadership of the group. Later a man identifying himself as Kiel (claiming to be the “chief deputy director”) called to arrange meetings with different departments. In one such meeting, a command officer said that Henry and Hayes showed up in black jumpsuits wearing police patchers with their names on the uniform along with stars indicating that they were high-ranking officers. Hayes was carrying a handgun and wearing a utility belt. The officer said that the three told him that they were opening a new Canyon Country police station. Kiel reportedly gave him an business care from the Department of Justice.
The website for the group traced their origins to the Knights Templar in 1100 – a curious choice since the Knights Templar were ultimately declared outlaws and hunted down. After emerging during the Crusades, the Order continued to grow, including in areas like banking. The power of the order and its secrecy (and possibly the debt owed to it) led to order of a roundup by King Philip IV of France on the infamous Friday the 13th on October 13, 1307 . Many were tortured brutally, including Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay who was ultimately burned at the stake. The order was disbanded in 1312.
Yet, it appears to be flourishing in California according to the site which explains “When asked what is the difference between the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other Police Departments the answer is simple for us. We were here first!”
The case would remain somewhat problematic in claiming that the creation of such an organization is the same as impersonating police officers except for the appearance of Hayes and Henry. However, police say that they executed as search warrant and found badges, weapons, uniforms and law enforcement paraphernalia. Once again, however, there remains that question of whether some of this material is available to the public and whether the accused truly held themselves out as officers. They are accused of impersonating an officer. Henry is also accused of perjury while Kiel is accused of misusing his government identification. It is not clear if any money exchanged hands — creating a case for fraud.
The last two charges may be easier to prove. However, any trial would be made all the more difficult by the fact that most of the witnesses would be officers in uniform. These faux Knight Templars will fare better than the likes of Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay.