To the Editor:
Last week (Sept. 11) at the Houston County commissioner’s meeting, the board was asked to address illegal activity within the sheriff’s department. It was in reference to the DVD piracy and the latest incident of a deputy drag racing at the Houston County Airport (with a county vehicle, on county time, at a federal facility). The deputy’s penalty? Virtually nothing! His name is being withheld from the media, he will be “coached,” and it will be noted in his file.
Chief Deputy Scott Yeiter told the board the deputy had made a bad decision, admitted the wrongdoing and had no marks on his record. With that logic, if I’m caught speeding, my name should not be published, nor should I have to pay any fine because I have a clean record. We all know that wouldn’t happen. This double standard is not acceptable… Law enforcement officers should actually get more severe punishment because they supposedly know the laws and should be role models.
Regarding the illegal DVD copying operation, Yeiter stated it was Sheriff Ely who first informed the board. That is false. Lindsay Pierce (whose employment was recently terminated – retaliation?) is the one who first brought it to light. The law enforcement members involved in that operation still have not been held accountable!
There has been no explanation why the FBI has not pursued the matter. Punishment could be a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in federal prison, and the County Attorney’s Office says the case is closed.
The board requested that Sheriff Ely come to the next meeting (Sept. 18). When asked about the drag racing incident, the sheriff said the case is over. He stated he is the one to determine the discipline for those in his department.
It’s a sad situation that the board has limited authority regarding the sheriff because he’s an elected official. Is there coercion in the sheriff’s department so no one dares report misconduct?
Maybe it’s time to ask for Sheriff Ely’s resignation. Or, maybe the commissioners should be allowed access to the justice center, as was requested a couple months ago, not only to the halls and meeting room like now. It is ridiculous that the commissioners are denied access when the secretary has a key. The main objection was the presence of confidential information in various departments. If that information is out in the open for anyone to see, is it being handled properly?
Besides, the commissioners deal with confidential information all the time. Maybe the real reason is that the sheriff’s department is afraid of getting caught doing something illegal, or maybe watching movies during working hours?
By giving access (rather than commissioners having to wait to be buzzed in) there would be a semblance of “checks and balances.”
I was taught that law enforcement personnel are persons one can trust and respect. That is not true with the Houston County Sheriff’s Department.
Spring Grove, MN