SEYMOUR, Mo. – A local police chief has become one of the nation’s experts on the ideology that drove Gavin Long to kill three police officers in Baton Rouge, La.  

Long claimed to be a member of the “Washitaw Nation of Mu’urs,” a group which believes it is native to North America and above any U.S. law.  It is a so-called “sovereign citizen” group.

Bob Paudert is currently serving as the interim police chief in Seymour, Missouri after a more than 40-year law enforcement career in the Memphis area.

He travels around the country to teach law enforcement officers about what sovereign citizens believe, and what to be aware of if they encounter one.

In May 2010, Paudert was the police chief of West Memphis, Arkansas, when two sovereign citizens gunned down two of his officers during a traffic stop. One of those officers was his son.

“To be shot by a 16-year-old kid with an AK-47 on interstate 40, by a group we’ve never heard of, was just unbelievable,” Paudert said.

In 2010, local law enforcement and the FBI knew little about the Sovereign Citizens movement.

Since Paudert’s son died, he has made it his mission to identify the behaviors of people who believe the government is illegitimate and they do not have to follow any laws.

“Everything they stand for is a contradiction,” Paudert said. “They don’t believe in our court system but they’ll use it to sue law enforcement. They say they’re Christians, and they’re not — they’re just absolutely not.”

Paudert said many sovereign citizens do not act violently, but they commit acts of paper terrorism — like filing false liens on the property of government officials.

“They look like you, look like me, look like anybody else in this country,” Paudert said. “And you don’t know their sovereign until you have some encounter with one, and then it may be too late.”

Paudert says sovereigns may crack their window only about two inches when they are approached by an officer and often will not have a driver’s license or plates.

While Paudert cannot bring back his son, he can tell other officers about the signs that may have been there on that I-40 on-ramp in 2010.

“If I didn’t think it was saving lives, there’s absolutely no way I could re-live this week after week after week for 6 years, I’ve done it,” Paudert said. “You talk about your son getting killed, shot 14 times with an AK-47, it takes a lot out of you.”

Paudert said since his son passed away, he has traveled the country once or twice a week to train local law enforcement officers on how to identify and deal with sovereign citizens.

Paudert said the biggest misconception of sovereigns is that they are a white hate group; while the movement has racist roots, today it has members of various backgrounds.