There’s a lot of legend and conspiracy swirling around the Knights Templar. Now, we can add this bizarre footnote to its history: Three Californians, including the state’s Attorney General aide Brandon Kiel, formed a bogus police force they claim is 3,000-years-old.
Kiel and his faux-cops — including a pretend chief — have been arrested for impersonating police officers, among other things. They claim to be a Masonic Fraternal Police Department, the first of which was established in 1100 B.C., KTLA reported.
However, when all was said and done, authorities said they have no idea what Brandon and the others were even trying to achieve.
“We do know that they might have been trying to deceive the community,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Sara Rodriguez.
Their behavior doesn’t suggest the group believed it was breaking the law. They didn’t hide or lie about their strange organization, but actually reached out to real law enforcement agencies to let them know there was another force in town. They even mailed letters to agencies all over southern California.
In February, a contingent, including Brandon, visited LA County Sheriff Capt. Roosevelt Johnson for a courtesy call, the Los Angeles Times added.
Capt. Johnson ended up meeting with these Masonic officers — dressed up in fake uniforms — for 45 minutes, in which Brandon Kiel did most of the talking. But he didn’t once clarify to the captain’s satisfaction what their mission or jurisdiction was.
Now suspicious, Johnson set some real detectives on them and an investigation began, culminating the arrest of Kiel, “chief” David Henry, and Tonette Hayes this week. A search of two locations — the group apparently set up shop in a strip mall — uncovered fake badges, uniforms, ID cards, weapons, cars, and other unspecified equipment.
However, despite all that paraphernalia, the group doesn’t appear to have actually done anything, except maybe strut around town. The self-styled Masonic Chief Henry apparently swaggered into a country western-themed restaurant one day, outfitted in his uniform complete with insignia on his arms, reciting “I’m the chief, I’m the chief,” a server told the Times.
“He carried himself like a cop, his uniform was spot on to a regular cop uniform, we all thought he was a legit cop,” the chef said.
Henry also brandished a business card emblazoned with the words “MASONIC FRATERNAL POLICE DEPARTMENT.”
But it’s Brandon Kiel who’s attracting the most attention due to his ties with California Department of Justice’s Kamala Harris. With the pretend cops, Kiel was chief deputy director, but his real job is deputy director of community affairs for the department, added Reuters. There is concern now that Brandon’s shenanigans could hurt her campaign for U.S. Senate, even though he wasn’t appointed by her.
Meanwhile, Kiel’s friends are confused about his association with the bizarre group. Friend Ingrid Fields told the Times she “was in total disbelief. I still don’t believe it. This is not the Brandon that I or dozens of people know.”
“(Brandon) is smart, articulate and very, very ethical, which is why I find this hard to believe. He is a hard worker. He is a brilliant guy who had a great political career ahead of him. I can’t imagine him doing anything to jeopardize that.”
[Photo Courtesy Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]