November 15, 2012 | Volume 117, Issue No. 46

Pine County deputy under investigation

Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole wondered "how this could be" when he received a theft complaint, about two weeks ago, involving one of his deputies.

He immediately sent an investigator out to get details of the complaint, which Cole called "very credible," following the investigator's report.

Cole spent that day and night going over the information and turned it over to the Chisago County Sheriff's Office for investigation to avoid a conflict of interest.

By Monday of last week, they had enough evidence to place the deputy on administrative leave.

The Pine County attorney sent the evidence to the Kanabec County attorney to be reviewed for possible action. Cole said other people have come forward since the first complaint in this ongoing investigation.

"I have zero tolerance for this in our agency," Sheriff Cole said.

Early this year, Cole went public with an internal investigation of alleged misconduct involving 15 employees of the Pine County Sheriff's Office (PCSO). The allegations included failure to follow established PCSO policies and orders, failure to perform assigned duties, sexual harassment, domestic violence, mishandling of property under the control of the PCSO, excessive force and abuse of authority. The investigations were triggered by an old folder of complaints Sheriff Cole found when he took over the office in 2011 following his election.

Sheriff Cole said last week, "I take this job so seriously. We have worked hard to build the trust. I'm so angry this trust was broken. I love my employees, but I love this agency and county more."

Of the theft complaint, he said the investigation began immediately. He didn't waste any time, moving ahead as quickly as possible under criminal and union procedures.

The investigation will proceed with input from the victims to find the best solution.

More information will be forthcoming once the investigation is complete.

Sheriff Cole said there were no threats of violence in this case.

"Now we will work to repair the image of this agency," Sheriff Cole said.

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