Lake County Undersheriff Karey Reynolds, the subject of a perjury investigation in the state department of justice, announced his resignation today.
In an interview this morning with the Indy, Reynolds said the decision has nothing to do with the state’s investigation, but rather “restructuring of the [sheriff’s] office.”
“It was decided that the office of the undersheriff was going to handle different roles,” he said, “and to be honest with you, I am not the best man for that job…I think there is another individual who can handle that better. And I’m not going to stand in the citizens’ way of getting things accomplished.”
Reynolds said the complaint against him—that he misrepresented his work history prior to Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle choosing him as undersheriff last year—is “totally unfounded.”
It’s the latest incident in a string of controversies surrounding Lake County law enforcement.
Early last year, the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, the state body that polices the police, requested records to verify Reynolds’ employment with the Ronan Police Department. To be eligible for undersheriff, he couldn’t have had a break in service exceeding 36 months. Ronan Police Chief Dan Wadsworth provided the documentation.
“However,” POST Director Wayne Ternes wrote to Doyle on May 19, “due to the recent incident at [the Montana Law Enforcement Academy] where a student was ‘sponsored’ by Ronan Police Department to attend MLEA and documents were falsified by Chief Wadsworth (mainly stating that the student was hired by Ronan when he was not), I decided that further investigation into Mr. Reynolds’s employment was necessary.”
POST couldn’t verify Reynolds’ work history. So it ordered him to complete a 12-week basic-training course at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, in Helena. He graduated Dec. 9.
Meanwhile, Doyle asked the state attorney general’s office to conduct an investigation, which is underway.
It appears Reynolds could have perjured himself on search warrant applications he signed, such as one in a rape case. In that document he claims “20 years prior law enforcement experience” and that he had “received training in recognizing and investigating sexual assault and crimes in general.” Reynolds' POST records do not show training in investigating sex crimes.
"We are pursuing the allegation from a criminal standpoint and nothing changes by Mr. Reynolds resigning as undersheriff," Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Doran said.
Lake County Detective Dan Yonkin will take over as undersheriff on Feb. 14.
Below is Reynolds' statement announcing his resignation, in which he calls the allegations of misconduct in Lake County "spiteful mud-slinging of an unhappy minority."
To the people of Lake County:
It has been my privilege to serve the people of Lake County as their Undersheriff. However I have given Sheriff Jay Doyle my letter of resignation, and he has accepted it.
My reason for leaving is simple: at this time, I am no longer the best man for the job. When I accepted the position of Lake County Undersheriff, I was assigned the traditional duties of an undersheriff—largely the day-to-day supervision of the law enforcement officers. With my many years of law enforcement experience, I have the requisite skills and qualifications, and I knew that I was the best man for the job. However, over the past months, it has become increasingly clear to me that the office would be better served if the position of undersheriff were restructured. Part of this restructuring would require an undersheriff with much stronger skills and experience in human resources than I currently possess. It wasn’t my intention to remodel my job into one I wasn’t suited for, but I can see that this would be best for the office, and ensuring that what needs to be done gets done is more important than ensuring that I’m the man doing it. I’ve had many discussions with the sheriff, and we did discuss training options, but in the end, I have decided that I am not comfortable continuing in a job where I would have to acquire my skills at taxpayer expense. Part of my decision is based on the knowledge that there is already someone within the office who possesses the necessary skills. Therefore, on February 14, 2012, Lake County Sheriff's Detective Dan Yonkin will take over as Undersheriff in my stead, and it is my belief that he will do an excellent job for the people of Lake County.
It is no secret that the Sheriff Office is going through a difficult time. Rumors of officer wrongdoing continue to be rehashed despite the fact that the election is long past and that, like Elvis, previous administrations have left the building. I am greatly saddened to see that the reputations of the outstanding men and women who protect and serve the people of Lake County have been damaged through the spiteful mud-slinging of an unhappy minority who have allowed their personal agendas to ride roughshod over their loyalty and good sense.
I will continue to support the Lake County Sheriff Office, Sheriff Jay Doyle, and Undersheriff Dan Yonkin. It is my hope that the citizens of Lake County will do the same. Thank you for the opportunity to serve and protect. It has been an honor.