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Letter: Answering questions about Murray County's sheriff

By Jannette Engels, Wilmont

I am writing this letter in response to Carol Gregory’s letter to the editor in the Murray County News, Advantage and Wheel Herald asking several questions about the operations of the Sheriff’s Office and conduct of Sheriff Telkamp. As a dispatcher, currently employed with the Murray County Sheriff’s Office under the supervision of Sheriff Telkamp for the past 15 years, I can honestly answer these questions.

I encourage the citizens to stop listening to rumors and ask the current employees what is going on. I have heard several rumors about staff not being able to do their jobs and staff and outside law enforcement personnel being locked out of offices. This is false — everyone is still able to do their jobs and can come and go for any work-related tasks.

I have worked in the field for 23 years. Sheriff Telkamp is one of the best bosses that I have worked with. He does genuinely cares about his employees and the citizens of this country. I have personally witnessed Sheriff Telkamp in very emotional situations and he has always conducted himself in a professional and caring matter. Again, this is the leader I would want in my community. It is so hurtful to see people turn their backs on him, especially the people that don’t know the real story and are going off rumors. It is my opinion that if he didn’t care about his staff, he would not be in this position. But he stood up for the deputies, dispatchers and other administrative staff to be our voice and save jobs. Now he is the one that could lose his. He has fought for all of us many times. Now I am asking the citizens of Murray County to fight for him.

To address the investigation. I was called (while on duty) asking me to come in for an interview. After asking several times what the investigation was about, they failed to inform me as to what they were investigating. I was not given enough time to get union representation for the interview, so I declined the interview in fear of the county commissioners, County Coordinator Aurora Heard and County Attorney Travis Smith for retaliation if they did not like my statements to the investigator. I would like the public to know I absolutely have no concerns working for Sheriff Telkamp. Nor have I ever felt harassed by Sheriff Telkamp. Sheriff Telkamp has never created or made me feel like I was in a hostile work environment. There are other employees in the office that create the hostile environment, and it has been brought to the Board and Personnel’s attention and there is nothing getting done about this situation. I know for a fact that my supervisor also brought this to the attention of Mark Nipp, Personnel Committee and county board and they refuse to act on the complaints that have been raised by myself and other sheriff’s office staff.

I am also asking the citizens to take a long look at the current county commissioners. They continue to make irresponsible financial decisions, including paying a minimum of $30,000 per year to cover medical examiner costs that Sheriff Telkamp did for free (Brian Christensen also covered coroner calls and was paid $200 per call) and the hiring of Governmental Operations Consultant Mark Nipp at a minimum of $6,000 per month for six months ($36,000 minimum). I feel he was brought here by the county commissioners and is working under the direction of the County Commissioners and County Coordinator Aurora Heard. In the time that the board hired the Governmental Operations Consultant, he has not done anything to make our work environment less hostile. As an employee of this county for 15 years, this is all a slap in the face considering myself and the remainder of the dispatchers still have not settled our contract this year. But they will pay a minimum of $66,000 in services that are not needed.

I simply could not sit back and watch the county commissioners, County Coordinator Aurora Heard and County Attorney Travis Smith continue to spread false accusations and attempt to destroy a solid career over a vendetta. I fully understand by voicing my opinion I am risking my job. I am very fearful of retaliation from the county commissioners, County Coordinator Aurora Heard and County Attorney Travis Smith, and I fear losing my job for submitting this letter. I encourage everyone to get out and vote in the primary election on Aug. 14 and the general election on Nov. 6, and vote Sheriff Telkamp.

If anyone would like to contact me to ask any questions please feel free to send me an email at engelsj74@gmail.com and leave a phone number and I will call you back. Thank you.