The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is firing back after one of its deputies went to The Gazette with claims that Sheriff Terry Maketa has ordered meetings to discuss morale in the wake of an investigation of the office.
The report, which The Gazette first published on its website Wednesday night, cites a deputy who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
The deputy told Gazette reporter Dave Philipps that the meetings are being conducted by internal affairs deputies.
She said that in one such meeting, someone said that the credibility of the Sheriff's Office has been damaged by the recent scandal involving Sheriff Maketa. She told Philipps that some deputies have reported getting cat calls and other negative comments about the situation while on patrol.
While The Gazette withheld the deputy's name in its report, the Sheriff's Office provided that detail and much more in its response.
In an email sent to KRDO NewsChannel 13 and other news outlets, the Sheriff's Office said that the deputy who went to The Gazette was Kerry Linfoot.
The email said that Linfoot has been with the Sheriff's Office since 2010, during which time she has been under investigation by the internal affairs office for nine alleged policy violations, five of which were sustained.
The email also says that Linfoot is engaged to be married to Sgt. Mike Schaller, who recently filed an EEOC complaint against the office and who is currently under investigation after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him.
The Sheriff's Office goes on to explain in its response that the meeting Linfoot was referring to was part of a routine staff inspection during which numerous topics were discussed, including morale. The Sheriff's Office said the same topics were discussed in meetings with all three patrol shifts.
The Sheriff's Office included a link to Deputy Linfoot's internal affairs file in the email. KRDO NewsChannel 13 requested four internal affairs files from the Sheriff's Office nine days ago and has not yet received them.
County Commissioner Peggy Littleton, who has been a critic of Maketa and was the first to call for his resignation, said morale appears to be a bigger problem than he will admit.
"What I hear from some of the deputies, is that it's very difficult over there right now, because there's not a lot of trust in their leader," she said. "( I hear that) the sheriff is not there a lot, and that they get a lot of flack on the street and at the jail regarding the sheriff."
The Sheriff's Office released another statement Tuesday, part of which stated:
"In speaking to whether or not morale is an issue, all indications would suggest it is not... the morale levels of some employees ride somewhat of a rollercoaster, depending on any number of work-related factors... but that does not mean the agency has a morale issue, or is being impeded by low morale."