Editorial: Stark County Sheriff’s office investigations a black eye for western NDNobody is above the law.
Nobody is above the law.
With little information being shared about the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, it’s hard to determine what is going on there, but it’s also undeniable that it must be something of substance or state investigators wouldn’t be spending time trying to figure out what “it” is.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigations is reviewing a case regarding Sheriff Clarence Tuhy, who was allegedly involved in a theft from the House of Manna in Dickinson. The nonprofit agency accepts donations and gives them to others in need.
Tuhy is calling the incident a misunderstanding and when this situation is cleared up, let that be the case. He is cooperating and that needs to continue. All doings behind the “honest mistake” should come out now and Tuhy’s truthfulness can make that happen.
If his story does not match what the investigators find, there will be a shake-up at what appears to be an already-shaky department.
On top of allegations against the sheriff comes the news that an independent firm has been called in to investigate the sheriff’s office as a whole. Unfortunately, it is not being looked into for helping too many little old ladies across the street — the accusations are far more incriminating. Those making allegations claim the office is a hostile work environment.
The claims have roused suspicions and since the issue has come to light; stories are creeping out of the woodwork. Some may be true, but investigators are there to figure this out.
Not only do these accusations hurt the long-time sheriff’s reputation, but it doesn’t bode well in a community that is having a hard enough time hiring and keeping law enforcement employees.
It’s known nationwide that western North Dakota has a rash of over-priced houses and hard-to-keep-up-with changes in population, business and costs. Overall they are skyrocketing.
Why would it be desirable or beneficial to work at a department that carries a reputation as a harassing environment?
If it wasn’t already, Stark County absolutely will not be the first place a person is going to drop off their resume. It doesn’t help that there are at least a dozen western North Dakota communities also finding it problematic to fill these positions.
Oil field work is high-paying and the accusations might be just one more reason a person looking for work will take a different career path.
Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning and the Dickinson Police Department deserve a tip of the hat for bringing forth the information regarding Tuhy and for turning it over to the BCI.
Any conflict of interest in such a matter would be unacceptable. Sending it to the state for review is the correct response.
Though there will always be outlaws and people that still see western North Dakota as the Wild West, times have changed.
May the outcome of these investigations paint a more pleasing picture for the sheriff, sheriff’s office and community.
Publisher Harvey Brock and Editor Jennifer McBride are on The Press Editorial Board.