What the Sheriff is saying is there is a FRAUD within THEIR system! It’s NOT the Sheriff’s duty to safely keep these records. IF we the people have a question on these records our issue is with or ELECTED CLERK Linda Frary, NOT the Sheriff. If these public records are NOT FILED, they are not EFFECTIVE. Let me also REMIND those who work for us, record tampering is against the law!
What the people will find is these 5 Deputy’s records are not only a fraud upon the people, there are MANY records in the Clerks office that are a fraud, I have one on record CURRENTLY myself that stems from many other frauds on the people in the way of plea deals and default judgments. Case in point IF you want to look up a case, look up case 2009CV1434 where the County filed this fraud document. There is in DEFAULT Judgement of a fraud that was perpetrated that brought on by that lawsuit. (More to come) by the party involved so you can get it from the horses mouth,
None the less in this case having documents on one request and not on the next only means the Clerks office is in disarray in which HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SHERIFF!!!! If anyone is to answer for this, it should have been our other Elected Official Linda Frary!
Sheriff Scanner error led to missing files
News Journal’s request for personnel files fulfilled on second try
Jul. 17, 2014 8:55 PM |
MANSFIELD — Amid an ongoing investigation into a deputy-involved shooting, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office failed to turn over complete personnel records for five involved deputies on the first request.
The News Journal had requested to see personnel files for Lt. Donald Zehner; Sgt. James Nicholson; and Deputies Jeff Frazier, Andrew Knee and James Berry as a routine measure after the March shooting death of Lexington resident Brian Garber. The sheriff’s office complied with the request, turning over a stack of files about an inch thick.
But a News Journal investigation discovered multiple documents were missing from deputies’ files. Full compliance with public records requests is required under Ohio law.
The sheriff’s office cited a scanner error and human error as the cause of the discrepancy.
“This agency attempted to fill the request electronically and we were advised by the News Journal that they did not receive all the information requested. As soon as we were notified of the problem we then manually, by hand, went through all the files requested, copied them, and redacted them,” Sheriff Steve Sheldon wrote in a letter Thursday.
The result of the manual filing yielded 933 pages of records — more than 3½ times the 260 records received after the first request.
“To imply that there was any intent by the sheriff’s office to willfully withhold any documents is absolutely false,” Sheldon said.
The majority of documents missing from the first request were routine employment, change of pay and other office records. But most of the records deemed to be more negative in connotation also were not included.
From Zehner’s file, numerous crash reports — the most recent of which was from October of last year — were not received on first request.
Most other missing documents, including pre-employment evaluations, were dated from the 1990s, but commendations from the same time period were included the first time.
In Frazier’s file, two paid administrative leave letters, a crash report, pre-employment evaluations not recommending Frazier for hire, an incident report filed by Frazier relating to K-9 Odin and Frazier’s allegations against another officer were not included in the first personnel file received in July.
Additions to Nicholson’s file in the second request mainly included military records from his many tours of duty, but some local commendations and two cruiser crashes also had been overlooked. Also received on second request was a letter stating Nicholson was subject to a drug test during paid leave after Garber’s shooting.
No other deputies had records of drug tests in their files.
Knee came on as a sheriff’s deputy in February, making his file significantly smaller than others received. Still, the full personnel file was not provided upon first request. Aside from routine office documents, Knee’s file also was missing a psychological evaluation in which he was recommended for hire with “mild reservations.”
Berry’s file also was shorter — he was hired in August 2013 — but was missing his pre-employment psychological evaluation in which he was recommended for employment without reservations. A personnel complaint filed against him for mishandling of a firearm during a traffic stop, a violation for unsatisfactory work and a reprimand that resulted in him being placed with Zehner for a two-week retraining period in June also were missing.
Berry still is on a one-year employment probation until August; Knee is on probation until February 2015.
Discovering the error
The News Journal caught the error by comparing Frazier’s personnel file in July to records obtained the last time his file was requested in May 2013.
It was discovered that seven records were missing from July’s file that had been included in May’s. Thirteen records — mainly commendations — were included in July’s file that had not been in May’s. An administrative leave letter from August 2013 also was missing from July’s file.
The sheriff’s office indicated in a letter that only medical records were withheld from the personnel files requested in July — medical records are protected from public view under Ohio Revised Code 149.43.
The News Journal asked Sheldon to review all five personnel files and provide an explanation for why the documents were missing from Frazier’s file, and to explain any other documents discovered missing from the other four employment files. Sheldon also was asked to give his personal assurance that all five files were complete and accurate when received the second time.
A brief note from the sheriff office’s lawyer, Daniel Downey, said a “scanner and human error” were to blame, and said the office takes public records requests very seriously.
“The RCSO Command Staff has taken steps to assure that this will not be an issue in the future,” Downey said in the letter.
comments as of 7-18-14 8:36am
Thanks for updating us on this…..please keep on top of it and continue investigating this story. Clearly the department would just love for it to go away and the truth to be hidden about who did the shooting and the circumstances, but we must not allow that to happen if there is to be any chance of justice being served.
Richard Metcalf · Top Commenter
Good thing it is a slow news day, and the News Journal was able to take care of such an important matter, after this long of time.