Houston County Deputy Not Disciplined for Racing
Members of the Houston County Board are asking why a sheriff's deputy was not formally disciplined for drag racing in his squad car while on duty.
The Winona Daily News reported Saturday that the deputy raced his Dodge Charger down a runway at the Houston County Municipal Airport in Caledonia on July 12. A Caledonia police officer raced against him in a new Crown Victoria cruiser.
The Caledonia officer was suspended for a month when superiors learned what happened. Board members in the southeastern Minnesota county said there should have been consequences for the deputy too.
Sheriff Doug Ely declined to name the deputy to the newspaper or explain why he wasn't formally disciplined. Commissioner Jack Miller says he learned what happened from citizens, not the Sheriff's Department.
Chief Sheriff's Deputy Scott Yeiter defended the department's handling of the incident and described it as "an employee coaching session." He said the deputy's decision to race a squad car on duty "wasn't egregious enough to have a disciplinary letter placed in his file."
Ely, in an email to board members, declined an invitation to attend their next meeting to discuss the incident. Referring to both the racing incident and a previous dispute between his department and commissioners, he wrote that "more discussion about these items on their part will be considered harassment."
Miller said the racing incident deserved a stronger response. He said if Ely skips the board meeting, that commissioners would have to consider their next move.
The sheriff "doesn't necessarily answer to the board, but we are the budgeting board, and I believe our jurisdiction does cover employees in his office," Miller said.
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