The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office operates with taxpayer money, and anytime taxpayer money is being utilized anything the organization does can be scrutinized. FOX21 has obtained several videos of a lieutenant using his unmarked Sheriff’s vehicle to take his elementary age child to school.
The videos show the incident wasn’t an isolated issue as there are several occasions spread out of several weeks. The action is a direct violation of the Sheriff’s vehicle use policy (viewable at bottom of this article) in at least two sections. One of the sections addresses what you can and can’t do in a county vehicle and the other section simply says, “members operating office vehicles shall not permit persons other than County personnel to ride in the vehicle.”
After seeing the videos, we requested to meet with Sheriff Bill Elder on the topic of the office’s vehicle use policy. When we arrived at the Sheriff’s office, we were told he was meeting with legal counsel, on an unrelated topic, and our meeting would have to wait.
While we waited, a public information officer and commander asked us what it was we specifically wanted to talk with the Sheriff about.
We disclosed that we had videos of a deputy using his unmarked car to take his kid to school. We also asked if this was a policy violation.
The commander said yes, it is a policy violation and if it’s true they would need to open up an investigation.
The commander then requested to see the video. We showed him and he was able to identify the Lieutenant and confirm he was using an unmarked county-issued car. We then left the Sheriff’s Office.
Within 30 minutes we received a call from Sheriff Elder. He said he knew about the lieutenant driving his son to school and said he gave special permission to do so as stated in the policy about commander authorization and special circumstances.
The policy he is referring to falls under the assigned vehicles section and reads:
“Vehicles shall only be used for work-related purposes and shall not be used for personal errands or transports unless special circumstances exist and the commander gives authorization.”
We then asked about the liability of having a child in the car and it potentially hindering the deputy’s ability to respond to a crime. His response was that the deputy is off duty in this circumstance.
We spoke with several current and former members of the El Paso County Sheriff’s office on the topic of being off-duty and their responsibility to respond. Every one of them said deputies are obligated to respond to crimes even when not clocked-in, especially when using their assigned vehicle.
In fact, under the assigned vehicle section of the vehicle policy, subsection “d” states, “while operating the vehicle, authorized members will carry and have accessible their duty firearms, badge and Office issued identification card and will be prepared to perform any function they would be expected to perform while on-duty.”
We requested an additional interview with the Sheriff to ask more questions and those requests were denied.
The questions we wanted to ask included, why didn’t the Sheriff simply tell the lieutenant to use his personal vehicle to drop his son off.
Also, it doesn’t seem possible for a deputy to respond to a crime with a child in the car, yes or no?
We also requested to interview the lieutenant and he also denied our interview request.
El Paso County Sherriff’s Office Vehicle Use: