Quoting one of my favorite movies of all times Oh Brother Where Art Thou. Do Not Seek the Treasure. Do not blame the inmates. The inmates are at the mercy of the MCSO they must do whatever the employees of the sheriff’s office wants them to do.
There are some very good corrections officers working in the jail. I will take Corrections Officer Hayes as a prime example of an Exceptional Corrections Officer. There is a reason why Hayes is no longer a corrections officer and was banished from her position as a corrections officer to perform Court House Security after a 6 month hiatus ordered by the sheriff. Can you imagine being placed on paid 5 ½ month administrative leave with pay and two weeks w/o pay? Corrections Officer Hayes was in the line of fire when the sheriff’s son-in-law Jonathan Stebbins worked for the sheriff’s office. She was his first line supervisor. Poor Hayes knew nothing about the complaints that went to Attorney General Luther Strange regarding Stebbins.
Corrections Officer Hayes was the unfortunate corrections officer who wrote Alexandria Berzett up for misuse of the NCIC database. I believe that granddaughter Berzett was checking up on her baby’s daddy. Wasn’t the Lawrence County Chief Deputy fired for his misuse of the Law Enforcement Tactical Systems database? Guess who piped in on the above mentioned story? Damn! You’re good! It was the one and only Sheriff Ana Franklin. Sheriff Franklin goes on to say “No one has been dismissed under my watch for that,” Sheriff Franklin goes on to say her employees must go to school for that. Alexandria Berzett did not go to school until after the NCIC security incident occurred. Sheriff Franklin if you were in the office more often maybe you would know who’s cheating who, who’s being true, and who doesn’t even care anymore. I also noticed that the Alabama Attorney General’s Office presented the case to the Lawrence county grand jury. Hello! Luther was that you? What about all of the information that has been presented to you in regards to Sheriff Ana Franklin? Would you have taken actions if the sheriff was a man or a democrat? Just asking…… Especially since much of the information that went to the AGO was briefed in the Sheriff’s open staff calls.
Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 12:00 am
Systems that law enforcement agencies use to run background checks on suspects are strictly for investigative purposes, and inappropriate use could land officers in jail.
The most recent example is the indictment and arrest of former Lawrence County Chief Deputy Harold Knighten on Friday.
Knighten, 41, is accused in a four-count indictment of using the Law Enforcement Tactical System, which belongs to the state, under false pretenses to check the background of an individual. Two charges are felonies and two are misdemeanors.
The indictment lists the victim in Knighten’s case as Christopher Lanard Hood of Town Creek.
LETS is a state database, while the National Crime Information Center is a federal database.
The charges are serious because the information is not public, and officials are limited in how much they can legally search.
Sheriff Gene Mitchell said he’s dismissed staff in the past, including one deputy two years ago for misusing the system.
In that case, Mitchell said, “He was trying to find out information on a person for personal reasons. The system is to be used for any criminal investigation. It is an investigative tool.”
Mitchell said the officer he fired a couple of years ago was not charged with a crime.
“It’s up to Alabama Criminal Justice Information Services on whether or nor to bring charges,” Mitchell said.
The Alabama Attorney General’s Office presented the case to the Lawrence grand jury.
The sheriff said he could not comment on Knighten’s case, which he said the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and ACJIS jointly investigated.
Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin said her department uses LETS and NCIC, but there has been no misuse.
“No one has been dismissed under my watch for that,” said Franklin. “A state agency comes in every year, and we have to produce records as to why we ran someone’s name through for a background check.”
Franklin said the department conducts checks for various reasons, including investigations and pistol permits.
“It has different queries, and everybody has to go through classes to be able to access the system,” Franklin said. “There’s a limit on what can be looked up based on what it is. Like for a license check, you cannot run a full background check on someone.”
She said officers cannot use the system to do background checks for businesses or private citizens.
District Attorney Scott Anderson’s office has access to the two systems, also, but only three of his employees are authorized to use them.
“We use it to look at people’s background for habitual offender purposes,” Anderson said. “We also use it to check out people we might be looking to extradite.”
Anderson said the usage of both systems is monitored.
“We have to have a log of all the searches, and a gentleman will come by periodically to check to make sure it’s used properly,” Anderson said. “No one has violated the systems since I’ve been here, and I don’t know of any past occurrences.”
Data in NCIC is provided by the FBI, federal, state, local and foreign criminal justice agencies, and authorized court systems. Knighten resigned as chief deputy after his arrest Friday. He remains free on $10,000 bail. He had been on paid leave since July 25 after allegations about the alleged misuse of the state database.
The next step in Knighten’s case is an arraignment hearing for him to face the charges, but it is unknown whether the proceeding has been scheduled.
The felony charges carry a penalty up to five years in prison and a fine ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
Knighten has denied the allegations through his attorney.
Knighten had been chief deputy for six years, and prior to going to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, he worked for Town Creek Police Department for 16 years, where he was chief for six years.