Light shed on law enforcement issues

By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia Argus

 

Allegations of misconduct, employee reprimands and an overall sense of disappointment in Houston County law enforcement were aired at the Sept. 11 Houston County Board meeting.

Kevin Kelleher, resident, came forward to implore the board to take action on what he described as a general culture of “what can we get away with.”

“The mission of the sheriff’s department is to enforce law in Houston County, obey the law and be a role model. As long as we have a situation where no one is held accountable it goes on,” Kelleher said.

He specifically brought up a DVD copying case that first surfaced in 2009 and a more recent drag racing incident at the county airport that involved a sheriff’s deputy and City of Caledonia police officer.

A foggy wall between at least part of the board and the sheriff’s department appeared evident as Commissioners Jack Miller and Justin Zmyewski requested that the sheriff attend the next meeting. He was not present to address the comments.

Miller agreed with Kelleher’s observations and said, “There are outstanding allegations of misconduct that should be addressed. There is public concern and it’s an item of ridicule right now.”

Houston County Chief Deputy Scott Yeiter asked to address some of the points – mainly the DVD and drag racing incidents.

“The DVD issue has been here for 3.5 years and I’ll remind the board who told you about the DVD issue: It was the sheriff who came to a budget meeting in June 2009 and informed everybody at the meeting. There was no attempted cover up.

“There’s been multiple investigations, and as far as I’m aware there’s been cooperation from everybody involved.”

Both Kelleher and Miller refuted the idea that cooperation existed but no specifics were presented.

In addressing the airport drag racing incident of August, Yeiter said the deputy involved freely admitted his guilt and was internally coached.

“We were disappointed in him vehemently,” Yeiter said, adding that the deputy had no prior mar on his record.

Miller said he felt the punishment didn’t fit the offense. “It just seems to me that it is a little more egregious than something that is done by coaching.”

Miller continued, “I have had citizens ask me that if I get a speeding ticket do I get a DVD with it. They ask me, ‘How fast do those squad cars go, Jack.’ It’s embarrassing.”

But Yeiter argued that a few poor decisions should not shadow the daily effort of the sheriff’s department. “I believe our deputies do a great job. To try and paint with a wide brush is demeaning to the work that is done,” he said.

Kelleher spoke again and said, “I think the citizens of Houston County want their law enforcement to stop making stupid decisions.”

Despite the nature of the discussion, those involved remained civil.

In the end, the county auditor was instructed to ask the sheriff to attend the next board meeting.

Kelleher asked the board to take action on the situation.

“These are your employees and you need to take some kind of action to show the people of Houston County that the people that protect them obey the law,” he said.

 

What allegations?

 

DVD Copying: An outside investigation was conducted within the Houston County Sheriff’s Department – stemming from allegations from the summer of 2009 – after reports that sheriff’s department personnel were using county resources to illegally copy DVDs. The end result was a reprimand of IT Director Andy Milde and former finance director Casey Bradley.

 

Drag Racing: This incident occurred in August of this year and included a sheriff’s deputy and City of Caledonia police officer drag racing county and city squad cars, respectively, on the airport runway.

The sheriff’s deputy was internally disciplined, according to Houston County Chief Deputy Scott Yeiter, and had no prior offenses.

A City of Caledonia police officer was disciplined by the Caledonia City Council Aug. 13, though the reason for discipline was not given. His penalties include: suspension without pay for 160 work hours; to undertake a one-year probationary period; to complete nightly log sheets for one year; to undergo performance evaluations periodically during the probationary year.

Contact Emily Bialkowski at emily.bialkowski@ecm-inc.com.

  • Kevin Want to be

    Kevin, Kevin, Kevin

    Tough meeting when people who are loud, uninformed and don’t like to hear the facts. It is difficult to deal with these types at a meeting. Mr. Miller should take some notes on how to control these sort of individuals.

    Kevin was on the County Board and said we needed an expensive new court house. He got his way and then after it was 90% complete, didn’t want them to open it up.

    Kevin brought up the investigation on the DVD crap. The Sheriff’s office already handled it but Kevin insisted so Winona County had to investigate this case. This cost the County probably around $5,000-$10,000. The FBI and Winona County investigation felt there wasn’t enough to prosecute.

    Mr. K brought to the State of MN allegations that the Houston School Board was accounting for items incorrectly, even though they have an outside auditing company, audit their books every year. The state of MN came in and audited the books, again and found that the items without receipts were small in nature and weren’t out of line for our school district. This cost the school board around $5,000-$8,000.

    Kevin’s jumps on a band wagon and it costs everyone money ont items that have already been handled.

    • town crier

      EXACTLY!!! Kelleher should talk about being in the right. i recall when he was sitting on one of the higher chairs above the rest of the people in meetings HE was the one who refused to listen to many, put down those that attended any meetings with ridicule and cheap talk. Now that he lost getting comfy cozy in that seat he thought was a throne he is getting his name out there for a bid at some election or appointment I am sure. He is not kidding anyone. He should try getting a real job. Maybe he can replace Mitt the NitWit??

  • tinman

    So the outcome of the illegal DVD copying was what? Someone from outside the department was fired, sounds like ready, fire, aim. What was the coaching? Don’t do this again or don’t get caught. If a citizen did this would they be coached or arrested? Seems like a double standard for the people who are policing the rest of us.

    • town crier

      I agree….if it were one of our kids we would have had to bail them out, hire a lawyer and they’d lose their license or who knows what. The county officer should have been treated at least the same as the city officer. GREAT ROLE MODELS GUYS!!

  • seeks

    Way to go Doug – glad you stood up for your employees and to the commissioners. Not sure what Kevin is trying to stir but he sure tries his darndest – wonder where he gets his information from. Inside leaks – maybe a family member. Leave it alone and move on…. its time to take the high road.

    • town crier

      It was news to me that the sheriff was the one who brought it to the board in the first place?? I bet there are alot of people who have never heard that. From what I have been reading for the last month is he was just as much involved if not moreso then the rest. I didn’t hear Kelleher toot his horn on that.

  • ex-con

    Does anyone know who won this race???

    I think it’s about time for the County Attorney to petition the court for a Kevin muzzle, or a barking collar.

    This is soooooo old…………………………

    • town crier

      lol….he needs now to get a pit bull license for himself. he is soooo self serving it reeks.

  • ex-con

    Apparently some people want a pure law enforcement cop.

    Mayberry RFD (Rural Free Delivery) was a fictional TV show from long ago.

    Can cops be cowboys, yes of course, sometimes they’re rough around
    the edges, but that’s why we hired them. We want them to deal with those
    problems that most of us can’t or won’t.

    Do they break the law, well, yes, many times they do in order to
    enforce the law, within reason of course.

    How many times has the Houston County dispatch received a call of an
    overdue pilot/aircraft; I suspect many times over the decades since the
    airport was built.

    Will a deputy/city officer drive onto the airport runway searching for a downed
    aircraft/pilot? How else are they going to search that long, straight
    and really flat surface area..??..??…

    Okay, nothing here.

    Is it likely that the officers will drive really fast getting off
    the runway?

    What do you think………..

    Will it become competitive? I hope so!

    On the DVD crimewave blowback, it reminds of the fingernails
    on the blackboard sound.

    Why does this keep coming up, it’s over, like a long time ago.

    This negative publicity is a bad thing, for everyone.

    Actions can have consequences.

    Kevin wants criminal charges.

    Is Kevin’s harassment of a public official legal?

  • Kevin Kelleher

    As always, you anonymous heroes can talk your crap from behind the bushes. I know at least two of you are Sheriff Dept folks. Most of the facts you heroes have put out there are wrong but who cares when it comes from the people who are afraid to say who they are? Mr. Yeiter repeated the refrain from the last comment session – “it’s over, it’s over”. Well, dim bulbs, like I said last time, it won’t be over til you pay for your crime, just like the rest of us. You’re an embarrassment to the profession. Kevin K

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