Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Deputy says he belives disciplinary action was politically motivated

A little controversy heated up the race for sheriff.

St. Joseph News-Press

A Buchanan County Republican candidate for sheriff has decided to speak out about disciplinary action taken against him related to a vehicle pursuit.
Brian Carter, a road patrol supervisor at the time of the incident, pursued a man suspected of domestic violence on March 19. Mr. Carter’s police vehicle and a civilian vehicle were damaged in the chase.
The News-Press previously reported that disciplinary action had been recommended by a review board against Mr. Carter following an internal investigation. At that time, both Mr. Carter and Sheriff Mike Strong declined to elaborate on the circumstances due to personnel issues. The News-Press formally requested documents related to the pursuit but was denied access.
Mr. Carter has since chosen to comment on various aspects of the issue.
“There have been several occurrences involving personnel changes within the department that would certainly lead one to believe that this has the potential of being politically motivated,” Mr. Carter said.
Three months after the incident, Mr. Carter was transferred from the patrol division to the corrections department.
Mr. Carter questions the time and validity of the disciplinary actions. The primary election is Aug. 5. Mr. Strong is running for re-election as a Democrat against Ron Fisher, a deputy within the department. Mr. Carter is running as a Republican against Galen Higdon, who is also a deputy.
Rick Dierenfeldt, also involved in the pursuit, was recently transferred from corporal of the patrol division to deputy in the court marshal’s department — a move he was told was because of “a recent inability to perform the duties of the patrol division and for the good of the department.”
“I wasn’t necessarily surprised at the course of events that took place,” Mr. Dierenfeldt said. “However, I will continue to serve in my current position to the best of my ability and with a positive attitude.”
Mr. Carter filed an appeal in response to the disciplinary action, which did not go in his favor.
“The attorney advised through research on the issue that he discovered Buchanan County is one of the only counties in the state of Missouri that does not have an appeals process, which gives any elected Buchanan County official, including the sheriff, absolute power and authority in personnel matters — with or without cause,” Mr. Carter said.
Mr. Strong denied any further comment on the matter, citing personnel issues. He does, however, expect sentencing for Joshua P. Vantiger, 24, of St. Joseph, who was charged in the pursuit, by the first part of August.

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