Friday, January 19, 2018

Fire chief still waiting for sheriff’s response to complaint letter

It has been seven months since Columbus Fire Chief Rich Cowger sent an official complaint letter to Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy regarding a dispatcher’s failure to immediately send a deputy to check on a woman who eventually was hit and killed by a vehicle on Highway 10.
Cowger is still waiting on a reply.
The 3-page complaint letter followed two fatal incidents involving the same dispatcher during the same week in March. It was sent to several government entities on March 29. The News obtained the letter after filing a Freedom of Information request.
The letter expressed frustrations with what Cowger called a “system as a whole and the lack of oversight, proper training and personal accountability” that extended beyond the March incidents.
An internal investigation was conducted by Brophy into both March incidents and determined the in the first incident, the dispatcher followed proper procedure. Brophy determined the second incident was the result of not following procedure but because the dispatcher was still in training, he declined to discipline her. Instead, she was put through remedial training and returned to work.
This week, Brophy told the News that he does plan to respond to Cowger but that other matters have taken priority. Most recently, paperwork from the ACLU and 911 equipment.
When ask five months ago why he had not responded to Cowger’s letter yet, Brophy told the News his priorities at that time were the 911 Emergency Notification System and the DUI Task Force plan, which had to be completed by June 1.