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July 2, 2014

Commissioners to return Sheriff’s camera

CLAREMORE — What to do with an item at the center of a schism between the sheriff’s office and a county commissioner was discussed earlier this week at the meeting of the Rogers County Commissioners.

Falling under the working description of “resolving an inventory question on a camera belonging to the Sheriff’s Office,” Rogers County Commissioners voted Monday to return a piece of equipment — a camera — to the sheriff’s office.

The camera, in question, spurred a dispute between District 3 Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker and the sheriff’s office, specifically Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, when Thacker found the camera on his private property.

Thacker claimed the placement of the camera on his property (to spy on him) was a violation of his Constitutional rights, and an “abuse of power” on the part of the sheriff.

Walton has said the use of the surveillance camera was not a misuse of county equipment or a violation of the fourth amendment, but stemmed from a 2011 investigation into Thacker’s alleged use of county equipment to build a pond on private property.

During Monday’s meeting, what to do with the item, currently still in the county’s possession, was the only item listed to discuss.

As before, Thacker’s questions focused on the purchase of the camera itself, having previously said that a purchase order made out to Smart Scouter (for the camera) was canceled in November 2011.

Thacker previously claimed the item was not listed on the sheriff’s inventory and accused Walton’s office of paying for the camera’s surveillance service without possession (of the camera), a possible violation of state law.

“We were waiting on the purchase order and the receiving reports (on the camera) and the sheriff’s office said they would be able to produce these in two weeks,” Thacker said.

“We did talk about this two weeks ago, when I explained that we were never sent an invoice, so we never did process a receiving report (on the item),” said Rogers County Undersheriff Jon Sappington. “So the options when we spoke to the auditor are District 3 pays for it, keeps it, and he deals with it, or he gives the property back (to the sheriff’s office) and we’ll clear it up with the auditor’s office — those are the options I understand.”

“How does the county acquire equipment without paying for it?” Thacker asked.

“If they don’t invoice it, I believe there’s a statute that allows it as a gift,” Sappington said.

“It’s a gift?” Thacker asked.

“The company refused to invoice it,” Sappington replied.

“But you still made a receiving report for receiving the equipment,” Thacker said, then requesting to know item’s serial number.

Sappington said the requested information was in his (Sappington’s) office. At this point, Sappington left the meeting to retrieve the serial number which he reported to commissioners after returning to the meeting more than 15 minutes later.

“Basically, we’ve got two options, either you can give it (the camera) back and we clear it with the auditor’s office or you keep it and we’ll send you the ...”

“We don’t need it,” interrupted Thacker.

“We can pick it up then — how do you want to co-ordinate it?” Sappington asked.

“I’ll bring it to you,” Thacker said.

Following this exchange, Thacker put forth the return of the camera in a motion which was seconded and passed unanimously, although no specific date or manner of return was established by either party.

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