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Murray County Sheriff responds to request for resignation

Editor's Note: Murray County Sheriff Steve Telkamp issued a statement to The Globe at 5:49 a.m. Wednesday regarding a request by the Murray County Commissioners on Tuesday that Telkamp submit his resignation. Telkamp's response follows:

This letter is in response to the recent investigation that has led to a request for my resignation from the Murray County Board of Commissioners.

The Murray County Board of Commissioners along with County Coordinator, Aurora Heard, have singled out several of my employees in an illegal open meeting. Commissioner Magnus, Commissioner Thiner, Commissioner Gunnick and County Coordinator Aurora Heard were on an open microphone, in an open meeting room talking about terminating employees, eliminating staff and hours, reducing salaries and decreasing the sheriff’s office budget.

On the open mic, Commissioner Thiner asked, “How do we control the sheriff?”  Aurora Heard responded, “Through his budget and we can eliminate his staff.” Aurora Heard also stated “she (referring to a long-time employee with the sheriff’s office) should have been fired a long time ago and I will never let it go.”

If Murray County commissioners were concerned about workplace harassment and retaliation, this retaliation would have been addressed much before now. When confronted about this on January 17, 2018 in an open board meeting, as reported to the Marshall Independent (Murray County Sheriff Conspiracy article), the Commissioners and County Coordinator, Aurora Heard, retaliated against myself and staff.

The county board of commissioners inappropriately asked for my resignation in a letter which was sent to me on February 3, 2018. This letter requesting my immediate resignation also threatened to release a video that would be damaging to my reputation. The video, which some of you may not have seen, shows myself venting amongst staff about the way the County Commissioners and County Coordinator, Aurora Heard, have treated Sheriff’s Office staff, county employees (past and present), and myself and their continued attempts to control the Sheriff’s Office. I apologize for the language I used in the video. I became passionate when the County Coordinator and county commissioners were retaliating against employees in my office. Although some of the language I used may have been uncomplimentary to my professionalism, it was a display of raw emotion, as I am concerned for the hardworking employees of this county.

As Sheriff, for the past 16 years, I have been committed to your communities and our county to provide the best law enforcement services with the greatest staff at my disposal. I have a history of maintaining long term employment of employees in the Murray County Sheriff’s Office. My staff and Deputies are local men and women serving the communities they grew up in. The County Board and Coordinator are causing Murray County to be an undesirable place to work. If these Deputies and other county employees leave, we will be left with no choice but to employ staff from outside the area that have no vested interest in our community. I support the dedicated employees of Murray County.

I am going to seek reelection as Sheriff of Murray County and continue to provide the same services which I have always done with limited resources that the County Board and County Coordinator, Aurora Heard, have given me. I will always support my staff when they are threatened or mistreated. The stress and hostility that the County Commissioners have caused my staff is unjust. These Deputies and Sheriff’s Office staff are your neighbors and friends, working holidays, weekends and nights, sacrificing time with their own families to protect yours. When their sacrifice is undermined, I take it personally. I hope that Murray County, as a community, will not judge my 16-year career on a 7 minute video that they put together. My passion for my employees and this community got the best of me during that time, for that, I apologize.

As your elected Sheriff, I will not stand by and watch a dishonest County Board and County Coordinator take control of YOUR County. Please remember who you elected to be your Sheriff. If the County Board and Commissioners continue to strip me of my duties, they are stripping you of your rights. A government must have checks and balances. You elected me to serve and protect and as long as I am Sheriff I will do just that.

If anyone from the public would like to come in and discuss the issues, I would be more than happy and willing to discuss them. My door is always open. I am here to serve you.

Who do you want to lead YOUR County Sheriff Office? A County Board whose poor decisions previously cost our county citizens over $700,000 in a wrongful termination lawsuit? When will this end?

Citizens of Murray County, let this be YOUR decision on November 6, 2018.

Steve Telkamp

Murray County Sheriff

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