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Sheriff Maketa responds to report on policy changes

Published On: Mar 06 2014 06:31:37 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 06 2014 06:33:06 PM CST
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa says he is disappointed in a story regarding policy reported in the The Gazette on Thursday.

You can read the full Gazette article here.

After reading that article, KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted Sheriff Maketa for a response.  Below is the statement he gave.

--In reading today’s Gazette story by Dave Philipps titled, “Sheriff Sets Own Policies,” it’s disappointing that Dave Philipps is either unable or unwilling to deliver a balanced story; a story which provides equal attention to both sides of an issue so the readership can be informed without bias from the author.

On March 4, 2014, I received a request from Dave Phillips for an interview.  Mr. Philipps indicated he was writing a story about, “how, in December, the EPSO policy manual was changed so that it no longer states that the policies apply to all personnel and now states the policies apply to all personnel except the sheriff.”  A lengthy written reply was provided to Mr. Philipps concerning the topic, but like in other recent stories by this same author, he chose to leave out key portions of my statement in an effort to slant the story.  An example of important information Mr. Philipps intentionally left out includes:

“The change made in December was not a ‘new idea’ or change in practice, but was a necessary point of clarification regarding the distinction of the Sheriff as an elected official.  Even the county policy has long contained a statement in the definitions section exempting elected officials from the provisions of that manual (see below), as do policies on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Obviously, the clarification made to our policy in December is consistent with El Paso County policy.

The following is from the definitions section of the current El Paso County Personnel Policies and Procedures manual.  The same verbiage existed in the manual at least as far back as 1999:

Elected Official: Any of the following: Assessor, Clerk and Recorder, Coroner, County

Commissioner, District Attorney, Sheriff, Surveyor or Treasurer. Elected Officials are not

County employees nor are subject to the provisions in this manual, except that they may receive

group insurances, workers’ compensation, retirement, social security and other benefits as

determined by the Board.”

Link to El Paso County Personnel Policies and Procedures manual: http://bit.ly/1kB19u2

Link to complete statement from Sheriff Maketa to Dave Philipps on March 4th: http://bit.ly/1gcYnE4 

Today’s story places some emphasis on the fact that I made a change to policy without following a described sequence to make such changes.  Yet, Sheriff’s Office Policy 201, titled “Written Directives” clearly states in Section IV.A

A.       Policy statements will be approved and issued by the Sheriff.  The Sheriff may amend or cancel policy directives at any time.  In the Sheriff’s absence, the Undersheriff may issue policies and procedures, which may be amended upon the return of the Sheriff.

1.       The Internal Affairs Section will maintain all policy statements, amendments, and cancellations.

2.       A policy will be considered in effect when initialed by the Sheriff or his/her designated authority.

The story also states, “During the same revision…” a change in policy concerning political activities was made.  Mr. Philipps is wrong yet again, as the change he is referring to occurred one year earlier in December 2012.  Of equal concern is Dave Philipps’ untruthful reporting regarding at least one other Sheriff’s Office cited in the story, indicating he had received certain information from them which he had not.

Link to response from Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to Dave Philipps:  http://bit.ly/1ovbrJr

This is not the first time Mr. Philipps showed his non-objective writing as a reporter who refuses to adhere to the widely accepted Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics which is embraced by many journalists.  In his February 20th story concerning the missing file on Bill Elder, he failed to include or emphasize information I provided to him during my interview, forcing me to demand the Gazette to make the audio from the entire interview available to the public. 

The omissions from Mr. Philipps’ February 20th story include the following:

1.       When speaking about when it was first learned the file was missing, Mr. Philipps cited that Undersheriff Presley and Sheriff Maketa took over the investigation.  He failed to include that the Sheriff also directed all files to be looked over and inventoried.

2.       When discussing the fact that the discovery was made in April, but an investigation wasn’t done until December, Mr. Philipps failed to include the fact that all available leads from the April timeframe had been exhausted.

3.       Mr. Philipps discusses that lie detector tests were done in December and that former Deputies Kull and Gerhart were among the first.  Yet, he fails to include the fact that former Chief Breister implicated Gerhart as part of the case.

4.       When speaking about Office policies, Mr. Philipps includes information that the Sheriff is exempt, but fails to mention that the files were made available to the public because they contained information about a candidate for this Office.  NOTE: The release of records was also due to two Colorado Open Records Act requests by the Colorado Springs Independent.

5.       Mr. Philipps claims he reached out to the FBI and CBI to confirm information Sheriff Maketa provided concerning the effort to hand the investigation over to them.  Mr. Philipps says CBI did not respond, but they in fact had on the same day he made the request with the following statement, “After evaluating our staffing resources* and assessing what investigative work had already been completed prior to the request, the CBI declined to assist with the investigation. *Our Pueblo Regional Office was already engaged in multiple comprehensive investigations in the southern part of the state as well as encountered additional staffing shortages at the time of the request.”  NOTE: Sheriff Maketa also previously told Philipps about contact with the Attorney General’s Office and offered to give him the date and name of the Assistant Attorney General he spoke to.  Philipps refused the information.

6.       Mr. Philipps did not include Sheriff Maketa’s closing comments in the interview which included that “most importantly” this is not about the missing file.  Let’s get the truth out and move on.

Follow this link to the February 20th story and the comments in red which identify information left out by Mr. Philipps: http://bit.ly/1gcYkIm

It is unfortunate a local reporter would write with such disregard for not just the people or organizations included in the story, but for the readers themselves who rely on members of the media to report accurate information. 

As Sheriff, I have always faithfully adhered to my oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of Colorado and have abided by the same laws I am charged to enforce.

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