Candidate Jimmy Howery, who uses Facebook to spread messages about “what I hear” and “I have been told,” posted that “over the past months numerous people have approached me saying that they frequently see county deputies in uniform, in a marked sheriff’s car, stopped on the side of a road, putting up campaign yard signs for a local sheriff’s candidate.”
No names were used as the source of this information and no deputies were identified.
So I talked with Sheriff Shannon Zeman, who is not running for re-election this year, and he said , yes, one deputy put some signs up after they were blown down my weather and other problems. The deputy put back into place all signs, not just ones for any specific candidate. I’ve covered Zeman’s tour as sheriff for the past 11 years and have not found any reason to doubt his word or his information.
If Howery can supply the names of any of his “sources,” we will be glad to talk with them and obtain the date, time and names of any deputies involved in what they reported. Then we will look at radio transcripts and other records to see if any of those deputies were in that area on the time and date.
When claims are made without identifying any of those who made the claims, the “information” is, at best, “hearsay” and any law enforcement officer knows that “hearsay” evidence is discarded as unacceptable by courts, judges and professional investigators.
Howery did claim one source of information was someone he trusted, but again did not list the name of any “source” for his information or the names of any deputies. In our line of work, Sheriff Shannon Zeman is a “trusted” source. He says what was reported did not happen and would not be allowed in his office. We trust that information.
Zeman fired Howery as court bailiff earlier this year. Howery endorsed Republican Primary candidate Doug Weddle, a county resident and Christiansburg police officer, over longtime local deputy Brian Craig, who won the primary.
Weddle has his own problems with credibility. He told reporters and the public on primary election night that he would endorse Craig for Sheriff but then went back on his word and started helping Howery.
Shannon, by law, cannot discuss the dismissal of Howery but our own investigation into the firing found that his letter to The Floyd Press contained claims of activities about the department that did not check out. We learned those claims, and not his endorsement of Weddle, were central to his dismissal.
Howery is the second county sheriff’s department deputy who ran for the job after the Sheriff fired her. Laura Amanda Reinhard Sparks announced earlier this year she would seek the office but then dropped out and is supporting Howery. She ran four years ago but lost.
A Sheriff is a top law enforcement official for the county and is supposed to deal with facts, not hearsay or innuendo.
Voters in Floyd County will decide the best candidate for the office on Nov. 3.