Friday, December 7, 2012

Police respond to mayor’s ‘disappointment’

Chief: We have good investigators


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Police Chief Cam Daggett responded Thursday to a statement by Mayor DeWayne Briscoe that he was “disappointed” by an investigation of break-ins at the Elkhorn Fire Station conducted by the department earlier this year.

“When we do an investigation, I think we do a thorough job,” Daggett said. “I’ve never had a mayor be disappointed before.”

Briscoe’s comments were made in reference to apparent break-ins at the fire station on two occasions between February and April, allegedly resulting in the loss of city files.

“[Someone] logged in and extensively deleted emails and other correspondence,” Briscoe said in April.

    He also said it appeared that specific dates were targeted, covering the past few years, and that stolen or deleted records included work-hour and payroll records for Fire Department staff.

Briscoe said Tuesday that “the city considers the case closed” even though Sun Valley police were unable to determine a culprit.

    “I was disappointed at the lack of depth of the Police Department investigation of the possible break-in at the Elkhorn Fire Station and the inadequate follow-up on any clues as to which personnel might have been involved,” he said. “There has been no follow-up to the investigation by the Police Department.”

Daggett agreed that the case “seems to be a closed deal.”

“On March 7, we were notified of this event and went and did this investigation,” Daggett said. “On March 12, the investigation was taken away from us. We turned in all our reports on the case to the Office of the Attorney General. We took all the evidence to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office.”

On Jan. 17, Scott H. Birch, chief investigator for the Office of the Attorney General, began conducting an investigation of the city concerning alleged misuse of public funds by then-City Administrator Sharon Hammer and then-Fire Chief Jeff Carnes. A report on Birch’s findings, dated Oct. 15, was presented to Blaine County Prosecutor Jim Thomas. Thomas stated in a letter dated Nov. 21 to Briscoe and the City Council that he would not file criminal charges against past or present city of Sun Valley employees, due to insufficient evidence.

“Our feeling was that by handing the investigation over, our investigation was stopped,” Daggett said. “We felt someone else was going to be pursuing it.”

Daggett said he felt comfortable with that arrangement and did not feel responsible to complete the investigation because “Scott Birch is a good investigator.”

Briscoe said Wednesday that he had a “very productive” meeting with Daggett that morning and that they discussed how to avoid “disappointing” the mayor in the future. Briscoe declined to elaborate further.

“The prosecuting attorney would be a good judge of the department’s investigative ability,” Daggett said.

Thomas did not return messages seeking comment by press deadline Thursday.


Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




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