Skip to comments.Friction apparent between Craven commissioners and sheriff
Posted on 02/08/2012 10:41:33 AM PST by The Shrew
RIVER BEND Ongoing wrinkles in the relationship between some Craven County commissioners and the Craven County sheriff resurfaced at Monday nights meeting and were magnified by a shortage in the inmate concessions account.
Meeting in River Bend as part of Craven Countys 300th anniversary effort to take government to the people, Commissioner Scott Dacey brought to the boards attention the shortage of between $9,000 and $10,000 in the account jail inmates deposit for purchases from the jail commissary.
Commissioner Jeff Taylor highlighted problems in getting from the sheriff requested information on deputy high-speed pursuit training, vehicle use policy, and minority hiring that resulted in another canceled discussion between the sheriff and commissioners last Thursday.
Taylor said that during his just over 13 months in office, We have had a total of seven vehicles wrecked plus damage to two civilian vehicles and a fence line.
One of the wrecks killed a Bridgeton woman and recently, we had an accident where the call to the dispatchers did not match up with the official report filed by the sheriffs investigator or from the sheriff himself. How can a story go from striking a deer to equipment malfunction?
Craven County Sheriff Jerry Monette said in a Sun Journal telephone interview Tuesday that he thinks politics motivated the talk at the meeting.
The citizens of this county elected me to run the Sheriffs Office and thats what Im going to do, just like I think it needs to be done, Monette said. This is a new board and I am trying to cooperate. But there may come a time when that isnt the case if this continues. I dont want to get into a contest.
Were the ones who reported the shortage to the county, Monette said. And they are the ones who cancelled the meeting.
Craven County Assistant Manager Gene Hodges verified Tuesday that Commissioners canceled the meeting. He said their reason was because they did not have the requested information to review prior to sitting down for talks.
Dacey said the inconsistency in the Sheriffs Office and Jail account of money deposited by inmates dates back to several months was brought to the countys attention about 10 days ago when the account went negative.
He asked Assistant County Manager Rick Hemphill for options to fix the problem and to account for the missing $10,000. Somebody has absconded with the money, Dacey said.
Hemphill said options include depositing money from the county general fund, using money from the line item for seized property in the sheriffs budget, or using revenue from the commissary fund.
Regarding accountability, Hemphill said, The Sheriff has an investigation ongoing and is talking with the district attorney.
Monette said, In a nutshell, we have discovered a shortage in inmate welfare line item account. We immediately reported it and began an internal investigation.
We changed software in July 2011 and I really didnt know anything was wrong until it went short, he said. Our finance folks in the jail were notified by the banking institution that handles the account. It prompted a review of the books and we asked the county finance manager to come in and help us with the problem.
He said 25 to 30 people handle the money deposited and withdrawn by about 500 inmates a month. The inmate comes in, deposits money to his account and is able to buy supplies from the canteen from the account. When he leaves, whats left is turned over to him in the form of a check or debit card.
Monette said it is too early to tell what actually happened to the missing $9,100. I saw in Cumberland County where they had a problem of inmates forging routing numbers. I dont think thats the case here. We dont know yet. If we determine there is criminal activity related to the account, certainly well report that to the DA and get an outside agency to investigate.
Regarding the meeting canceled because no new information was submitted for commissioner review, Monette said he really had nothing new to report on some of the commissioners concerns. Regarding pursuit driving training and minority hiring, the policy we have in effect was made available in October or November. I reviewed the policy. Theyre asking for things already in the policy they havent reviewed.
He said it takes awhile to set up the training and we can only send two deputies every 90 days.
As for the accidents, Monette asked, Did he say how many were our fault? Three of the seven may be driver error at fault by a sheriff deputy. We have had several wrecks where people have hit our vehicles. Its something that happens when you get out in traffic and drive a lot of miles.
There is a whole lot of wolfing going on, Monette said. I want to sit down in a manageable way so we can give our point of view. I want to come in with an open mind with this new board and try to alleviate their concerns but Im not sure thats whats going on or that Im going to be able to do that.
Taylor closed his Monday remarks by saying, For those who thought that if ignored long enough, the commissioners will just get tired and move on to other issues, I will advise you that as long as we do not receive the requested information, we will continue to voice our concerns and will lead to some interesting sessions when it becomes budget time.
Sue Book can be reached at 252-635-5665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: “Craven” is county....not a judgement....
Of course, that's why it's capitalized!
Thanks for the note.
I was trying to be FUNNY!! if you don’t mind!?!?!
Hmmmm. Where have I heard that before....?
Oh! It is funny. Very funny. You're right.
Looks like some good old fashioned scofflaws at work in the Sheriff's Dept.
I’m concerned for our friend. He’s bucking pretty hard down there in New Bern.
The sheriff will get his deputy cars, 12 of them, with the $283,200 commissioners budgeted in June but did not appropriate until Monday as negotiations on a new sheriffs office policy for vehicle use and pursuit neared completion.
County Manager Jack Veit said the total is based on a quote for Dodge Chargers at $12,600 per car.
First-term commissioners Jeff Taylor, Scott Dacey and Tom Mark indicated there are still some training issues they want the sheriff to consider before fully accepting the 20-page policy, which Monette said deputies have read and understand. All said they feel concerns will be resolved.
Monette said he welcomes the additional deputy training for high-speed pursuit the commissioners say they want or any additional training for my deputies.
The policy was requested because there have been several accidents involving deputies, including two that resulted in civilian deaths. Commissioners said they have heard from their constituents about the need for a policy. And, as commissioners looked closer at vehicle operating costs at budget time, the fact that deputies drive county vehicles home, sometimes to neighboring counties, was highlighted.
The new policy wont allow deputies hired after Oct. 1 to take deputy vehicles out of the county. They can only be used for official purposes and cannot be used to transport unauthorized passengers.
But the sheriff did not back away from his position that deputies are essentially always on call and can respond more quickly with a vehicle, or that deputy cars need tinted windows.
This is about officer safety, Monette said. When a deputy pulls up to a scene, hes a target. Im trying to meet you part of the way, but saving $250 isnt worth the sacrifice for a safety issue.
Dacey said: There is concern but its not about $250. We want to know what these folks are doing.
He described a 5:41 p.m. incident he witnessed in which he felt the deputy car was traveling too fast for conditions without reason in a James City shopping center.
Nobody has more concern about the operations of these vehicles on the highways than I do, Monette said. These deputies are not hiding in the window tint.
He said when commissioners or the public witness what they consider inappropriate use of the vehicles they should call him with the date, time and location and he will check it out.
I will work with you, Monette said. Ive been doing this 17 years. The citizens have confidence in me. You will get to know me in time and I give you my word Ill do everything I can to make that happen.
Sue Book can be reached at 252-635-5665 or email@example.com.
Since sunlight is the best disinfectant I just thought I'd open the window shade a bit. I wouldn't want somebody to think that a commissioner could get pulled over for a trumped up DUI and drug bust and not have anybody notice.
Doubtful the citizens of Craven County would fall for retaliatory charges by county LEO. Seems the voters have already spoken loudly and clearly by electing three first term county commissioners. That should have been the sheriff’s first clue that his scofflaw days are numbered. However, he appears to be one brick short of a full load.
I hope you're right.
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The good ole days ...
But it's always so nice for the taxpayers that the commissioners have yearly budget power over other elected officials, namely the arrogant ones, the big spenders.......not to mention the liberal jackasses.
Good luck to Skeet.
Well I’ll be damned. He finally got into politics after all.
Good for him!