- Associated Press - Friday, December 22, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - More deputies have left the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office since North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum reinstated the sheriff four months ago.

Eight deputies have resigned since Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger’s return in August, the Bismarck Tribune reported . Three of the deputies whose last days were in December took law enforcement positions at other agencies. Two other deputies filed grievances with the state Labor Department.

“It’s a free country,” Schwartzenberger said. “They can do what they want to do.”

Former Deputy David Christensen said he will likely file a complaint as well. He resigned effective immediately in October, hours after two other deputies quit in a similar way. Christensen said Schwartzenberger brought a “negative atmosphere” into the agency.

Schwartzenberger was suspended from his position last year by then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple during a removal proceeding on allegations of bullying and retaliation. He’s scheduled for a misdemeanor trial in February related to unauthorized use of a county credit card.

Former Detective Sgt. Korey Lass wrote to Burgum’s legal counsel during Schwartzenberger’s suspension period in April to share concerns about his leadership. In Lass’ letter obtained by the newspaper through an open records request, he wrote that the sheriff threatens deputies’ employment and makes heavy-handed decisions regardless of others’ concerns.

Once Schwartzenberger was reinstated, Lass claims that the sheriff knew of his letter and retaliated by passing him over for a promotion, which went to a newer officer.

“I had no other choice but to resign my position on Sept. 14, 2017,” Lass wrote in a complaint to the state labor department.

“I believe them leaving made this a better agency,” Schwartzenberger said of the resignations. The sheriff said he plans to run for re-election next year.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com


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