CHILTON - The Calumet County sheriff is apologizing for what he calls theinappropriate actions and language of two of his deputies.
"This was an unfortunate incident that caused disgrace to ourdepartment, to the county and to all of law enforcement," saidSheriff Jerry Pagel.
At issue is a video and accompanying pictures, showing a stuffedCalumet County Sheriff's uniform being burned in effigy. Oneoff-duty sheriff's deputy can be heard, among others, making racialremarks.
"Now it kind of has the KKK aspect to it (laughter) we're justburning a cross," one of the deputy's can be heard in thevideo.
The burning took place in a backyard fire pit at the Darboy homeof Jennifer Bass, a four-year member of the sheriff's department.Bass resigned her position two weeks ago following an internalinvestigation.
Pagel says it was Bass who shot the video and made the racialcomment. And it was Bass who posted it all on her internet Facebookpage.
"Someone found this offensive, and brought it to our attention,"explained Pagel.
Seen in photographs also posted on that Facebook page is WendySchmitz, another Sheriff's investigator who has been with thedepartment in different capacities since 1997. She was offered andaccepted a reduction in rank and salary as punishment for herparticipation.
"We felt their actions and these comments were a detriment orproved to be a negative impact upon our department," saidPagel.
Pagel says both Bass and Schmitz indicated they burned theuniform, adorned with sticky note tags identifying fellow officersincluding the sheriff, as a stress reliever.
"They indicated it was out of frustration and a stress relieverto place them on the uniform and burn them in effigy," he said.
In the video as the fire dies down, it's believed to be Schmitzcommenting on her stress.
"For some reason I feel like 100 pounds just got lifted," saidSchmitz off camera.
Both Schmitz and Bass were offered an opportunity to comment byFOX 11-- neither responded.
Sheriff Pagel says despite the two deputies who used badjudgment there are 54 other deputies who have remained professionaland respect the uniform they wear. The department met as a wholethis week to review what had happened to insure it doesn't happenagain.
"We informed them you have to be aware of what you put outthere," Pagel said.
Sheriff's officials say they regularly use Facebook and otherweb sharing sites to help in their everyday investigations and thedeputies should have known better.
"This is the last thing I'd want to make public. This is anembarrassment to our department and to me," said the sheriff.
Pagel says let this revealing internet posting be a lesson toothers, not to make the same costly mistake in judgment.
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