Hanging investigation kept behind bars
September 1, 1999
Craig — The Moffat County Sheriff’s Department internal investigation into the attempted suicide at Moffat County Jail is being kept locked up.
Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg made it clear to the Craig Daily Press that no results from the investigation will be released.
According to Hoberg, under Colorado Statute 24-72-204 (3a), the custodian of public records “shall deny the right of inspection provided by the records of the following,” including “personnel files.”
“We did an internal investigation,” said Hoberg. “The people involved were dealt with internally and that information is not public information.”
But, according to the statute, personnel files include only home addresses; telephone numbers; financial information; information maintained because of employer-employee relationship; and documents exempt in other statutes, i.e. letters of reference.
Results of administrative and performance findings are not listed as private in personnel files.
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When asked who made the decision to not release the results of the investigation, Hoberg or Sheriff Grinstead, Hoberg said, “Both of us did under the advice of our attorney.”
According to Hoberg, there has not been any threat of litigation over the incident and there have been no changes made to jail policy.
Donny Arnett, an inmate being held on charges of burglary, forgery and theft, was found hanging in his cell Aug. 5. The Sheriff’s Department refused to release details of the attempted suicide including what Arnett used to hang himself with, saying that releasing critical information would taint the internal investigation. Hoberg also would not release how Arnett obtained something to hang himself.
Jail inmates, according to jail policy, are searched before entering the jail and items inmates may use to hurt themselves are supposed to be taken away.
Detention officers Nolene Falk and Harry Blakeman were working in the jail at the time of the incident and Sgt. Dean Herndon was the supervisor on duty.
When asked if any of the employees involved have been disciplined Hoberg said, “I can’t give you that.”