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“Mission Team” Investigating Menominee County Deputy

Menominee County Sheriff Kenny Marks confirmed Tuesday, Dec. 4 that there is an investigation underway into an allegation made against one of his deputies. He said the investigation, which was started at his request, is being conducted by a special “Missions Team” which consists of detectives from Sheriffs Departments in two separate and somewhat distant Michigan counties.

Asked if it is true that the officer has been suspended, Marks said they typically place employees on paid administrative leave when they are the subject of a pending investigation.

“We have had an allegation made,” Marks confirmed. “We have no information...no reason to believe that it is criminal in nature. I cannot comment until I know.” He said that County Prosecutor Dan Haas is waiting to determine if there were criminal violations, civil violations, policy violations, or perhaps no violations at all. Whatever information is discovered goes through the County Prosecutor’s office, Marks said.

He declined to say at this time which officer is involved, or specifically what allegations against him are being investigated.

Marks said he personally requested the investigation, and has daily contact with the investigators, but until he receives the report in writing will not specify who is involved. “It would be irresponsible and unethical for me to issue a press release at this time,” he declared, adding that particularly in a small community, even false accusations of wrongdoing, especially in law enforcement, can destroy someone’s career and their life.

“My job as Sheriff is to make sure due proces is maintained for both sides - both for the alleged victim and for whoever the deputy is. We’re going to get to the bottom of this. My job as sheriff is to remain unbiased and get the correct information. I won’t know what the outcome will be until I see the written report.”

The investigation has been underway for over two weeks. Marks hopes the Mission Team report will be completed by late next week. He would like to see the whole matter closed before Christmas.

Marks said after receiving the allegations he requested a Missi Team investigation. He explained that the Michigan Sheriff’s Association has organized “Missions Teams” to enable sheriff’s departments across the state, particularly those in more sparsely populated rural areas like Menominee County, to have investigations done by trained impartial, unbiased detectives that they could not otherwise afford.

Typically a Mission Team includes two investigators experienced in a field related to the complaint, and generally they are sent from two distant counties to avoid the likelihood of encountering friends, relatives or acquaintances in the course of the investigation.

Most of the investigative services are on a reciprocal basis, although the requesting county covers some of the expenses incurred by the investigating team.

He said the system works very well, and hopes any state that doesn’t have a similar agreement between Sheriff’s Departments will get busy and organize one.

He said Menominee County has its own “Mission Team” made up of four detectives trained to answer calls for help with internal investigations in other counties. They have been involved with investigations elsewhere, he said. Marks said one of the specially trained investigators from his department is a female corrections officer, “selected because the jail is a very special environment, and investigators need to know all the state and federal laws that govern jail operations.”

He said this is the second time a Mission Team has been asked to aid in a Menominee County investigation during his tenure as Sheriff. In the first case, which received almost no publicity, he did not believe any crime had been committed by the employees accused, “But I went through the whole process and there was nothing there.” He said the Mission Team investigators on that case interviewed 17 individuals, and found in the end that “the complaint didn’t amount to anything....Investigators proved it was an untrue allegation and the employee had done nothing wrong.”

As to the current case, he added, “I won’t know what the outcome will be until I see the written report.” He said when the investigators came in he told them he wanted a thorough investigation, with the results in writing. Until that written report is received there will be no announcement as to the outcome, he repeated.


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