News 5 Investigates

Jun 20, 2014 8:48 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Investigates: County Commissioners fire back at Sheriff Maketa

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is under fire again. He's now accused of releasing internal personnel records on a deputy who blew the whistle about low morale within the sheriff's office.

According to the county's attorney, the issue over the release of the file is more of an ethical issue and determining whether Maketa followed proper procedures in publicly releasing the files.

Allegations of sexual favoritism, inappropriate relationships with subordinates along with equal opportunity complaints all surfaced in May. After the scandal went public, deputies came forward alleging low morale in the office, something Sheriff Maketa denied to county commissioners this week.

"I think we are in a better position today to respond to any kind of disaster than we have ever been," Maketa said.

Not everything appears to be picture perfect. The sheriff's office confirms there have been recent meetings to discuss "poor morale" in the office.

Deputy Kerry Linfoot brought attention to this issue to local media this week. Shortly after, the sheriff's office released internal files on Linfoot.

Files show Linfoot had been investigated 9 times for policy violations, but four were dismissed or found to be untrue.

County commissioners called the release of the internal personnel files "inappropriate," and now say they are having to do damage control.

As a general rule, internal affairs files are exempt from public record. Exceptions have been made in the past when that data is requested under a formal Colorado Open Records Act request.

"That particular release (of information) has already cost us 30 hours of staff time in responding and crafting our response to go back to the sheriff," commissioner Dennis Hisey said. "It's a terrible use of time."

Below is the statement county commissioners sent to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office:

EPC Letter.pdf

Here's is the response we received from public information officer Lt. Jeff Kramer:

"The Sheriff's Office will not respond to follow up questions or provide further comment on Media Release 14-041 which was distributed on June 19, 2014 at 3:35 p.m.

Sheriff Maketa did receive Commissioner Dennis Hisey's letter expressing the Board's concerns over the media release. Sheriff Maketa has asked the Commissioner to specify where in the media release the Sheriff was expressing "opinions" versus facts.

Furthermore, he respectfully asked that Commissioner Hisey, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Board, be consistent with expectations and address Commissioner Littleton for her inappropriate comments to the media surrounding the Sheriff's absence at the BoCC meeting. The Sheriff also expressed his concerns for the County's slow response to correct media headlines about the absence, waiting until 4:39 p.m. to set the record straight even though it had been a topic in the media all day."



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