This week’s local paper headlined “County D.A. investigating alleged sex scandal at sheriff’s office.” Because the case is being reviewed by the D.A., most of the investigation details still cannot be released. However, here are the releasable facts as briefed to me by our jail commander Frank Hunewill several months ago.
Our prisoner food contractor, Trinity Food Services learned of an alleged incident and immediately notified jail staff who then acted promptly. A detective was assigned to conduct a criminal investigation of a food service employee (employee A) and a prisoner assigned to work in the kitchen. While reviewing kitchen surveillance video, an unrelated prisoner on prisoner battery was seen and it appeared another employee (employee B) witnessed the battery. Neither employee B nor either prisoner reported that crime. Employees A and B were fired by Trinity Food Services. All prisoners who worked in the kitchen were removed from that work assignment. The criminal investigation was completed by the assigned detective and forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office.
Trinity Food Services is one of the largest correctional food services contractors in the nation. They have been in business since 1990 and have more than 3,400 employees. Under former Lt. Brunson’s jail leadership, annual prisoner food costs exceeded $380,000 with jail deputies doing food service work. Trinity reduced costs to approximately $260,000, which included three full-time and one part-time food service specialists. They are able to cut costs because of operations and logistics capabilities.
The food service contract requires prisoner (trustee) kitchen workers, which is a normal practice. These trustees are screened by jail deputies prior to kitchen work assignment. This isn’t the first allegation of sex between a prisoner and a non-prisoner or drugs coming into the facility, nor will it be the last with whomever is in charge. One problem being corrected is installing additional kitchen video cameras to cover “blind” areas; however, cameras can’t be installed in the bathroom and some of the other confined spaces (i.e., mop and cleaning closet).
Unfortunately, Mr. Brunson and the reporter were manipulated by an employee who used them to in an attempt influence an election outcome. When asked to respond to Mr. Brunson’s allegation of a sex scandal cover-up, I told the reporter it was “political horseshit.” A better story might have been last December’s guilty plea and sentence of a former Lyon County deputy, but hey, I can’t always do their job.
On a positive note, the Nevada Department of Public Safety released its annual 2017 Crime in Nevada Report, which listed Lyon County’s crime index at 13.49 per 1,000 citizens. This is lower than we originally predicted at 13.6. According to the annual report, only three Nevada counties have lower crime indexes: Esmeralda (5.88), White Pine (10.63) and Lincoln (11.68). Some nay-sayers are claiming the “books are being cooked” because our numbers are just too good to be true. Here’s a reality check folks. Our records division has never been asked to change reporting practices. They are reporting data to the state the same way it was done under former Sheriffs Sid Smith and Allen Veil.
An image attached to this week’s post is a 6-month crime comparison report to the same 6-month period last year from our records management system. So far, the data looks like we are on track to remain flat for 2018 as it relates to crime indexes as compared to 2017. The second image shows our overall call for service comparison in our three districts. While our Walker River District (Silver Springs, Mason Valley, and Smith Valley) is reporting a 7-percent increase, it still is only about 40-percent of either our Dayton or Fernley Districts, which are reporting slight reductions. Each district is assigned the same number of patrol deputies; however, it is noted that the Walker River has greater distances to drive. Eventually, we will have a link on our website so anyone can access these community reports.
And finally, thank you Dayton Veteran of Foreign War Post 8660 for the recognition plaque presented to the Sheriff’s Office at Thursday’s commissioner’s meeting. It will be proudly displayed on our walls.
As always, keep the faith!