“I felt that there were definitely clear cut issues with intimidating, bullying, harassment, and I felt that it would not line up with keeping the previous administration,” Morrison said in an interview with The World. “So whether they were knowledgeable ... or supportive of what was going on, I’m not sure. But I knew that the administration that I had selected was clear that did not want that to continue.”
Over the past decade, three former deputies have sued the sheriff’s office for various wrongdoings under Morrison’s predecessor, Brian Burnett.
Morrison appointed Dan Ozment to undersheriff, Ryan Moody to chief of special operations and Seth Buhler to chief of patrol. They were all appointed between early January and late February. Chief Civil Deputy Kim Oglesbee was the only holdover from Burnett’s administration.
The previous administration was former undersheriff Jason Mathews, former chief of patrol Adam Musgrove, and former chief of special operations Chris Foreman.
Morrison repeated a point from his election campaign last year that he wants to have the sheriff’s office go back to serving the community and “staying out of politics.”
“We’re looking back to focusing on serving the community, not so much ourselves. I felt like we had gotten into more of a rhythm but wanting to have personal political agendas,” Morrison said. “I believe the moves I’ve made since we came into office have put focus back on ensuring that we are serving the community as best as possible.”
He clarified that he does not believe any of the top officers in the previous administration are “bad people” or would have disagreed with his vision for the sheriff’s office.
Matthews, Musgrove and Foreman still work at the sheriff’s office, Morrison said two weeks ago. But Morrison noted he wanted to see change and, “change comes with bringing in new people.”
Two former deputies, Jennifer Tyler and Mike Harris, filed successful lawsuits against the sheriff’s office related to discrimination or wrongful termination during Burnett’s tenure as sheriff. Tyler also has an active federal lawsuit against the sheriff's office.
Most recently, ex-deputy Aaron Shepard filed a lawsuit Feb. 13 against Chelan County and the sheriff’s office in federal court alleging that he was harassed and discriminated because he no longer attended the same church as several top officers.
Morrison was mentioned once in Shepard’s lawsuit as one of several co-workers who “began telling Deputy Shepard (while in uniform on duty) to come to Grace City Church” in 2015.
Foreman was named several times in Shepard’s lawsuit and allegedly had Shepard suspended from the Chelan County Regional SWAT Team and “harassed via an Internal Affairs Investigation,” according to the lawsuit.
Shepard also claimed he “resigned from SWAT (team) out of fear that Sergeants Foreman and (Brian) Lewis would use any opportunity of the constant bullying and harassment to force him off (the) team,” the lawsuit said.
This story was updated to include an active lawsuit in federal court.
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