Dé Céadaoin, Bealtaine 19, 2010
The Sad Tale of Sheriff Fish Ova
William Roe spent eight months as sheriff of Sioux County but was never legally a cop in Nebraska, state officials say.
Roe, who resigned Monday, was set to appear before a state police council Wednesday to discuss whether he broke the rules by acting as sheriff without being certified by the state's Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island.
Under state law, appointed sheriffs have eight months to receive certification. Roe was appointed in September to fill the position left vacant by James Costello, who resigned after being found guilty of filing a false stolen vehicle report and falsifying records.
Roe ran out of time to be certified May 15.
But Bill Muldoon, director of the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, said Roe would never have been certified in the first place.
That's because he was either fired or asked to resign from four of his five previous law enforcement jobs in other states, and he didn't hold any of those positions for longer than 10 months, Muldoon said.
And, he said, one of those employers filed a criminal complaint against Roe and requested his decertification.
Roe, a native of Michigan, had most recently worked in Idaho and Wyoming.
In January, just weeks before an application deadline, Roe applied for reciprocity in Nebraska -- meaning his experience in other states would make him eligible for a speedier path to certification.
Muldoon rejected the application.
He would have denied Roe entrance to the state's regular training program, as well, he says.
"Agencies that would talk about him mentioned that he is not effective as a police officer, did not complete reports, had episodes of unethical conduct and engaged in gossip against the agency he was employed by," Muldoon told members of the Police Standards Advisory Council at an April 21 hearing.
Roe could not be reached for comment.
He also declined to respond to Muldoon's statements at the hearing.
"As far as I'm concerned we can end this," he said at the hearing.
Sioux County officials have declined to comment on the resignation.
County Clerk Michelle Zimmerman said the county paid Roe -- the only member of the department -- $2,522.39 each month he was employed.
It's not clear when the county's Board of Commissioners will replace Roe.
Gering Police Chief Mel Griggs, a write-in candidate, beat Roe in the Republican primary race. It's likely Griggs will win the office, although another write-in candidate could challenge him in the general election.
Griggs said he never got involved in the certification issue, and that he'd never met Roe.
Roe's situation could affect any cases he worked on while sheriff, Muldoon said.
"I think it would call into question anything he did," Muldoon said. "I think it would have all been very suspect.
"You're really playing with liability there."
This is actually a common problem in rural Nebraska; counties that should not exist electing total buffoons for sheriff. The lack of labor specialization that one finds in small communities is the primary reason why we see things like Sheriff drunk driver, sheriff wife, Sheriff first degree assault, Sheriff wife beater, etc.
Sheriff Grand Wizard? Well, best not to fuck with tradition I spose.
I would use this story as a reminder for those visiting the hinterlands, to not get into any trouble, except I can't say exactly how one would go about that. You shouldn't break any laws wherever you're at, that goes without saying. But the thing about being in a place with sparse and incompetent law enforcement is that you can get yourself into trouble by doing something that no reasonable person would find suspicious.
And if you happen to be not white, well, I'm not going to tell you where not to go or what not to do; and I wouldn't go so far as to say that you'd be in physical danger, as long as you stay out of the bars anyway. Be assured though that it's going to be really damn awkward for you. And if you do go into the bars at closing time, and you do get into a fight, you can be rest assured that you will be the one legally at fault, at the mercy of Sheriff High School dropout, and then you'll be wishing that this White Man hadn't been too bashful to imperiously command you not to go.