Note: Due to Chief Kenny Dodd's suspension last week, we were unable to reach him for comment about this story and the one above for this week's paper. We will offer him every opportunity along with any other who wishes the chance to speak out about this issue or any at the paper.
In the past weeks, more information has been coming to light that pro-
vide further insight into the inner workings of the Polk County Police Department's chain of command, and why officers have chosen to leave.
Among those items are letters within the personnel file of now Emerson Police Chief Randy Turner, a former officer with the Polk County Police Department who at one time held a command position within the organization as captain, and later left to find a better job.
Turner had no comment on the record other than to say that the letter he wrote in 2016 to Chief Kenny Dodd while he was still on the force was to the chief personally, and that due to his current position he couldn't get involved in Polk County's current issues.
However his letter was part of his personnel file, which was handed over to the Standard Journal for review following an Open Records Request made in late July. Along with the letter detailing issues Turner had within the department, he also sent another one to Polk County Manager Matt Denton, which was also part of his personnel file.
Both letter provide a behind-the-scenes look at the department which has been the subject of questioning following a letter sent with allegations made by 18 anonymous officers back in May to Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats.
However, Moats also received a copy of that letter along with other command staff at the Polk County Sheriff's Office, who turned it over to the Standard Journal prior to it being released as part of the Open Records Request made to the county.
Turner wrote the letter in mid-2016 following a conversation between himself and Dodd the day prior, and he cited much thinking and talking to put his "mind at ease and helping me be at peace about things."
He also stated in the first paragraph that another officer who came to Dodd about Turner seeking further employment was true, a claim that later panned out this year when he took on the role of Emerson's police chief following a letter of resignation he tendered in late April.
That letter was also part of his personnel file, along with the resignation letters of others in the department.
Turner's original letter to Dodd went on to blame the chief for current problems in the department, that he didn't want Dodd's job, and that he had always tried to be loyal and be an asset to the agency.
"I can't help but think that the problems we face as an agency and the thing that you dealt with yesterday are your fault," the letter stated.
He further went on to call out those problems - from a lack of work coming from the criminal investigation division to "we realized that our senior detective and supervisor couldn't recover a stolen vehicle from the woods based on an anonymous tip. Holy crap! It's not like a serial killer slipped away. It was a simple stolen vehicle recovery that follows the rules that we learn about in basic mandate and search warrants and affidavits. It is not advanced knowledge. If all else fails, knock and talk."
It also included the allegation of problems with the VICE unit.
"We had issues with the Vice unit and employees. Those team members were hand-picked for that job and all have looked for ways out. It is not like one wanted out. 4 out of 5 have issues. That means something needs to be looked at and corrected," the letter stated. "What will be done to fix it? Probably nothing. Salesmen and smooth talkers have gained your trust and you put faith in them over people who actually had leadership experience. People who did their job without causing you stress and drama."
His letter also called the department a "sinking ship" and that Dodd was the only one who could "patch the holes."
"We keep saying that people are leaving because of pay," the letter stated. "Let's think about something real quick though. Polk County has always been the lowest paid agency and the old saying when I got hired was "You have to wait on someone to die or retire to get a job there." I got my opening when John and the others got into that fight in my subdivision. Positions opened up and I came in. Now, it is a revolving door and I tell people if we are full to just wait three months and we'll have an opening. That is sad. It can improve. Pay is a scapegoat. It is easy to walk in and say I'm leaving for money because who can blame you? When it is .25 cents an hour, it is not for money."
Turner's only other statement on the issue before press time was that he subsequently left the department because he felt issues hadn't been addressed.
His letter further went to state however that " if you are able to fix our holes and patch this sinking ship, you won't have commissioners approaching officers or officers going to a commissioner's store to bash you and to try take your job. They won't have a leg to stand on. If you have true leaders inside who understand chain of command, you won't have these issues. You asked me before how chain of command works and you've stated that you don't believe in it. Welcome to failure without it. It works."
The second letter within his personnel file to the county manager dealt with what Turner felt was his grievances in reference to "disparate treatment" in regards to Turner's demotion.
According to his personnel records and those of another officer, Turner was previously a captain within the department but was demoted from the job in 2013 as what Dodd cited in a letter stating so that it was not for disciplinary reasons.
Turner contended in his letter that his demotion at the time back to the rank of Sergeant - one in notes Denton cited was a rank that was appointed and not earned through any test or criteria - was due instead to a failure to provide a written complaint about the behavior of a fellow corporal on the force, Andy Shurley, several years before. Eventually, former training officer Scott Ford provided the written complaint.
Following a stint at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Turner stated in his letter that he was approached by Dodd on several occasions about correcting an issue with then Drug Task Force Capt. Michael McGee.
"I did not feel like this was necessary for me to know, but he told me that he was going to demote Captain McGee and place him in Investigations with me," the letter stated. "This is why he was telling me of his plans. All of a sudden, he met with me and informed me that he was eliminating both Captain McGee's position and mine along with removing officer Scott Ford from the training officer position."
He said that he and Mc-Gee were given the option to go back to the rank of sergeant and go to patrol, training or investigations.
"At no time was I told I was lazy and that any detectives had an issue with me," his letter to Denton stated.
However, he learned later in 2016 that one officer was alleged to have been told by Dodd to not pay attention to Turner since he was "still bitter about being demoted about investigations" and that another corporal in the ranks was told that "I was portrayed as being lazy and that was why I was demoted from Captain over investigations."
Turner's letter stated he learned about the comments on June 9, and went and confronted Dodd later that day.
Notes from Denton's letter stated that the chief "did discuss laziness with Turner" and that "he often spoke with Turner regarding his performance many months prior to abolishing the captain position, but that had nothing to do with the demotion."
The letter to Denton also included details of conversations about other current officers on the force within the Drug Task Force, that he was unfairly discriminated against and considered several times for disciplinary action but that "nothing was ever put on paper."
"Which is apparently the Chief's standard," the letter stated.
Turner stated in that letter to Denton he wanted his job back as Captain, wanted his demotion removed from his Police Officer Standards and Training Council records, and that he felt he was unfairly discriminated against and might try to seek further actions to redress the grievance.
Eventually, Turner left the county police department for another job. He's not the only one, which will be covered in the next installment of information provided by the Open Records Request in coming editions of the Standard Journal.