Clinton County Sheriff's and Commissioner's Offices Go Head to Head in Heated Dispute

The Clinton County Sheriff's Office and the Clinton County Commissioner's Office are in a heated dispute that is causing some concern among local law enforcement.

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 12:00 PM

(CLINTON COUNTY, Mo.) The Clinton County Sheriff's Office and the Clinton County Commissioner's Office are in a heated dispute that is causing some concern among local law enforcement.

The disagreement began around November of 2017 after the Sheriff's Office said they, along with several other area departments and the Commissioner's Office, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning upgrades and renovations to the dispatch center.

"The communications center has not been updated in a number and number of years," Larry Fish, Clinton County Sheriff, said. "It's become a hazard to the employees that are working in there."

Fish said the agreement they signed included renovations to the center, which is located inside the Clinton County Courthouse. The office expanded the communications room to add more space for their staff and equipment.

"The renovations that we made were done so within this MoU, and within the budgetary constraints of that MoU," Fish said.

The renovations cost the department roughly $3,200, according to Fish.

However, Clinton County Presiding Commissioner Wade Wilken said the renovations were not part of the agreement.

"There's nothing in this MoU that covers what they've done with renovating in the courthouse," Wilken said. "It was only for training, increase in salaries and equipment."

Wilken said the Sheriff's Office took space from one of the visiting rooms, which he said they did not have permission to do.

"I made it very clear while they were starting to fix some numbers, I said 'I want to make sure you understand we [Commissioner's Office] don't want this done. Do not do this," Wilken said. "Well, he [Sheriff Fish] got angry and said we were trying to tell him how to run his department. Well, I'm not telling him how to run his department, I'm telling him not to tear up my building."

Wilken said he issued a Cease and Desist against the Sheriff's Office. 

Fish said because the money was already set aside in the budget and because they had agreed to the renovations previously, the department went ahead with the expansion.

In turn, Wilken said because the Sheriff's Office did the renovations, he plans on taking legal action against the department.

"Not only did they not stop doing what they were doing and put it back the way that it was, they finished it off and had painted the walls and everything," Wilken said. "So we turned the information over to the prosecuting attorney."

However, Sheriff Fish along with several law enforcement officers believe the renovations were a part of the MoU the department and the Commissioner's Office signed and therefore they are not at fault.

"It's all about trying to do the best we can for the community, and it just doesn't seem like we're getting the support that our communities deserve and that we desire," Joe Wellington, Gower Police Chief, said.

Now, the Commissioner's Office said because they are taking legal action they have pulled a half cent tax vote that was to be on an upcoming ballot. The tax would've brought in revenue to build a new Clinton County jail.

"We pulled the half cent sales tax off because if we're in litigation with the Sheriff I can't see that the general public is going to trust us to give him the money to build a jail when we can't trust him to take care of the courthouse," Wilken said.

Fish and several other officers believe the Commissioner's Office took off the vote for a different reason.

"I believe they were just unable to put their egos aside to look for the betterment of the communities that we serve. That we are sworn to protect," Jon Roe, Gower Fire Chief, said.

Fish said the renovations were necessary for their growing Communications Center. He said the center receives an average of 17,500 calls per year.

The expansion of the center is complete. However, Fish said there are more upgrades that still need to be done.

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