Stephen Tripp: It’s time to put a stop to unsubstantiated claims of corruption in Nevada County
May 17, 2018
Recently there has been a tremendous amount of opinions and comments made publicly surrounding allegations of corruption, intimidation and mismanagement within the Nevada County Sheriff's Office and the Nevada County District Attorney's Office.
The following is based on personal experience in my law enforcement role, as well as firsthand conversations with many of the people directly involved with these two agencies.
What disturbs me and brings me to write this is the blatant misinformation being spread publicly by a candidate (Glenn Jennings) who appears to have a personal vendetta, agenda and bias toward both Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices and is using allegations of corruption within those agencies for his own personal and political gain.
In December 2015, Jennings applied to the Sheriff's Office for a concealed weapons permit (CCW) and he was a relative unknown in the Sheriff's Office at that time because he had mostly worked in the Truckee District Attorney's Office. His CCW application was denied due to not fulfilling the required steps to take an 8-hour gun safety course, which is a requirement for anybody other than law enforcement. Personnel up to, and including, the Sheriff advised Jennings that he must fulfill the requirement and it could not be waived. Jennings was unhappy about his denial, which was evident by the phone calls placed to clerical staff, as well as command staff.
The message received by many was one of entitlement and the requirement shouldn't apply to him.
About three months later, Deputy Jason Mackey approached Jennings and requested a case be dismissed. Jennings refused to review Sheriff's Office personnel's search warrants and refused to file some criminal complaints involving the Sheriff's Office, even though probable cause existed, including even a homicide case with DNA/fingerprint evidence. A meeting was held with personnel from the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices in an attempt to extend an "olive branch," mend hurt feelings and to resolve any underlying issues. Jennings refused to put his personal feelings and opinion aside for the betterment of the community. A very short time after that meeting Jennings was asked to resign.
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What Jennings has done to Deputy Mackey is extremely unsettling and unforgiveable. He took a mistake and tried to turn it into a huge corruption allegation that involved the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices based solely on his opinion, without having all the facts to support the allegation that Mackey lied, let alone allegations of corruption. Jennings was asked to let the Sheriff's Office investigate the allegations that Mackey lied, which was fueled by a deputy who also had a bias towards Mackey because in his opinion Mackey did not deserve to be in the narcotics division.
A full in-depth investigation took place regarding the allegation that Mackey lied and he was cleared of any wrong doing. That information was given to District Attorney's office, but Jennings refused to believe he was wrong and refused to put his bias and vendetta toward the Sheriff's Office aside and came to the conclusion that there was corruption within two offices. Once a sealed search warrant was reviewed, in the case Mackey asked to be dismissed, it was determined that Mackey actually had not made a mistake as he originally surmised.
Even after these facts were revealed, Jennings still maintains Mackey is a liar — for Jennings' own political gain.
District Attorney Cliff Newell was correct to let the Sheriff's Office conduct the investigation, as all Internal Affairs investigations are left to the agency to complete.
Mackey is owed an apology by Jennings for labeling him a liar, which the facts indicate he is not. Jennings is a disgruntled former employee playing dirty politics by continually making allegations of corruption without facts to support them.
Right now there is a tremendous outcry by the public that the Sacramento County District Attorney file charges against the officers involved in the Stephon Clarke shooting even before all the facts are in. I'm afraid that Jennings would be the kind of prosecutor that would succumb to public pressure and rush to judgment. He has already proven that even when he is clearly wrong he will not admit it. We do not need a DA who comes to snap, quick decisions or rushes to judgment without all the facts.
I worked in and around both the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices for decades and unfortunately from time to time we do have personnel who have made poor choices and commit acts of misconduct. It happens in every profession.
The Nevada County Sheriff's Office and the Nevada County District Attorney's Office are a far cry from corrupt agencies. I know the personnel at both offices extremely well, and know them to be honorable people who are extremely ethical and professional.
But as all humans do make mistakes from time to time. The only mistake that Cliff Newell made was hiring Jennings as his Assistant District Attorney.
Stephen Tripp is a retired Nevada County Sheriff's Office lieutenant.