January 13, 2012 || Volume 2, Number 1 || Free
Pulling us out of the mainstream
The Grand County Uncensored logo and grandcountyuncensored.com are trademarks of Uncensored Media, LLC. All content copyright ©2011, Uncensored Media, LLC.
WHAT'S UPWITH OURDA?
Opinion and Commentary By Reggie Paulk
Tampering With Police Evidence: A ThirdClass Felony
The last three issues of Grand County Uncensored have focused on therampant corruption that pervades our sheriff's department. It's so bad, in fact, I wasnearly convinced our entire county government had become infected.Arecentexamination of the petition process has left me pleasantly surprised.As our County Clerk, Sara Rosene is responsible for verifying thesignatures submitted by potential candidates for elections that take place insideGrand County. The process involves the intake of petitions; conversion of writtensignatures and addresses into a digital format; comparison of that database to astate registry; and finally the output of a petition report.Afew weeks ago, a concerned citizen approached me and asked if I'd lookinto the 2010 sheriff election. For this exercise, I made a request for copies of boththe petitions and petition reports for the two candidates who planned to run againstSheriff Johnson in the 2010 election.Unlike the sheriff's department, who refused to meet my requests or justoutright ignored them, Sara Rosene immediately responded and had copies of thepetitions in the mail the next day. The petition reports, on the other hand, took aweek to make their way to me, and this is where I became suspicious.When I did receive the petition reports, the date on one report was10/16/10--one day after the petition for the candidate had been submitted for review.Conversely, the date on the second petition report was 12/21/11--one day after Imade the request for information. Knowing that the sheriff routinely changesincident reports and narratives after they've been signed, this immediately rangalarm bells, and I was determined to independantly verify the information in thereport. I contacted the Colorado Secretary of State's office.My initial call with the state helped me understand their statewide voter registration system (SCORE), an electronic database shared by all counties in thestate. The explanation I was given did not rule out the possibility that somethinguntoward may have happened with the petition, so I continued my investigation.The SCORE database is only accessible to state and local electionsofficials, so I had no way of getting independently verifiable information unless Iapproached the state. I continued to dig into the details of some of the questionableaddresses in the petition report without outside assistance. With the help of Googleand some time, I was able to contact one person who'd signed the petition in 2010listing a Granby address; the only problem is they were listed as living in Bailey,Colorado. This person was able to verify they hadn't moved to Bailey until January,2011; nine months after signing the petition. I approached both our county clerk andthe state with this information.Aday later, I received a detailed response from Sara Rosene that appearedto answer the bulk of my questions. But there was still no way for me to verifywhether those who'd been rejected due to party affiliation were legitimate or not.Resolving the addresses was also an issue. Luckily, I was later provided with a disccontaining the county election database from the time the petitions were circulated.Using the disc, I went through each of the 409 signatures in the petitions.As I progressed, it became clear that my suspicions were unfounded. There were afew signatures rejected when they shouldn't have been, but the database itself could be to blame for that; not the county clerk. I was convinced that the petition hadbeen properly vetted before being rejected. Then I received an e-mail from Ms.Rosene that verified what I had discovered.She took the initiative to ask the state for a custom extract of the voter record as it appeared in 2010, so I could compare it to the printouts she'd mailed tome. I can safely say that I have no doubts about the integrity of the petition processin Grand County, and I thank Clerk Rosene for that.
This is a little ditty from the November 16, 2011 issue of the DesertNews:
"A Salt Lake County constable and his wife have been charged withaltering a police report to downplay an officer's use of force.Silvan Warnick, 55, and his wife, Alanna Warnick, 53, both werecharged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony."
In Colorado, the punishment for being convicted of a third class felonycan range between 4-12 years of imprisonment, and anywhere between a$3,000 to a $750,000 fine. Tampering with police evidence is serious business,and constitutes a serious crime. When this type of crime is committed by a lawenforcement officer or officers, the breach in the public's trust is devastating.When it's committed by those in positions of leadership within the lawenforcement community, the damage can be immesurable.My coverage of the Grand County Sheriff has opened a floodgate andthe water is just now beginning to rise about his feet. The corruption andlawlessness is blatant. It is pervasive. It is dangerous. It is so bad that other lawenforcement agencies are aware of it and are trying to avoid dealing with it.They're not going to be able to do that for much longer.If I told you it was standard operating procedure for the Grand Countysheriff to alter police reports and other documents after the fact, you'd demandproof. We're talking about a possible felony offense here, and this is a seriousallegation. Well, not one to disappoint, here's a direct quote from a former undersheriff of Rod Johnson with regard to records:
"But, ah, we try to keep our business in house. Because, ah, there'scheckboxes and we give very limited information to the county we don't really want them to know. We've got information in our personnel files that they don't have access to which they'd love to. They don't get them, that's the sheriff'sthing. So, uh, I think on a couple of them we even went back over them and changed some things uh, ya know because, uh, what we have in our file and what they have over there are two different things. Only because we don't want them to have dirt on us over there."
The above "dirt" was obtained on strict condition of anonymity, and is atranscript from a recorded conversation. There's more though. I've beenapproached by numerous sheriff's department employees, again on condition of anonymity, about the state of records-keeping by our illustrious sheriff.According to them, being ordered to alter police and incident reports after thefact is standard operating procedure.The impact of altering police reports on the accused can bedevastating. It can enhance the charges they face; increase potential jail andprison sentences; and cause permanent, irreversible damage to a person'sreputation.So where is our DistrictAttorney (DA) in all of this? Why hasn't shetaken action to investigate what is common knowlege to just about everyone inHot Sulphur?A quick search on Google opened up a whole other can of worms.I contacted the author of a very scathing article, and was givenpermission to reprint it. It's offered for historical reference, and to provide moreinsight into the dysfunctional inner-workings of the judicial aparatus in GrandCounty.At the end of the day, holding your nose and checking the box "for theteam," may not be in your own best interest when it comes time to vote.