A spokesman with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that it's not unusual for an employee to be questioned in a personnel matter by three of the highest-ranking commanders.
The employee, Deputy Cliff Porter, was recently called into the office while off duty to answer questions from Sheriff Terry Maketa, Undersheriff Paula Presley and Bureau Chief Al Harmon.
Porter's superiors asked him about comments he allegedly made to a comrade regarding the office's handling of the 2012 disappearance of Kara Nichols.
Porter has filed a complaint against the office, accusing Maketa of creating a hostile work environment based on sexual favoritism toward women. Three commanders who are currently on paid leave filed a similar complaint.
Porter also said Maketa pressured him to support former Sheriff John Anderson as Maketa's successor.
In a recording of the meeting with Porter and his superiors provided by the Sheriff's Office, Porter expressed frustration about the atmosphere within the office.
"My perspective is with all the political stuff that's been going on, sometimes people ... it seems crazy around (here)," Porter said. "People seem worried and frustrated. Guys on patrol are worried about this and that, and it just seems nuts, man."
Presley replied by asking: "And you haven't played a part in that, and made any statements regarding that?"
Office spokesman Lt. Jeff Kramer said despite its stance against commenting on the current investigation of Maketa and the office, the office decided to provide the recording to dispute some claims made by Porter.
"Each member of an employee’s chain of command plays a part in a personnel investigation," Kramer said in a release issued late Wednesday afternoon. "Depending on the nature of the complaint or who the complaint is made to, it is not uncommon to have various members of the chain of command question the employee about their conduct."
Regarding the three commanders on leave, Kramer said they will remain on that status until the investigation ends, or until the office determines whether the commanders violated office policy.
Kramer referred questions about the cost the investigation to El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose. Rose said a cost can't be determined until all hours worked in the investigation are counted.