Boone County Sheriff’s Detective Ken Kreigh has accused Sheriff Ted Boehm of “political subterfuge” related to an investigation of an October drug bust and said he plans to resign from the department.
Kreigh, who announced his candidacy for Boone County Sheriff last September, claimed Thursday that Boehm went against departmental policy when he convened an outside review panel to investigate an Oct. 23, 2003, drug operation.
During the operation, an unnamed sheriff’s deputy fired two shots in self-defense into a suspect’s vehicle. No one was injured.
Kreigh, who lost his job as supervisor of the department’s Drug Enforcement Unit as a result of the review, said the panel consisted of a former Columbia police officer with a known bias against him; a former Missouri Highway Patrol officer who Kreigh said is a friend of Boehm; and a sheriff’s department captain who is a close friend to Major O. J. Stone, another Boone County officer who is running to replace the retiring Boehm.
The review panel found that Kreigh had “failed to adequately plan and control the operation in accordance with accepted law enforcement practices.” The panel said that Kreigh had “placed more importance on buying the drugs than on ensuring the safety and security of the operation team members and the public in general.” The panel recommended that Kreigh be suspended for one week without pay and be put on departmental probation for six months.
Kreigh appealed the panel’s findings. Late last week, Boehm informed Kreigh in writing that the appeals board found that personnel involved in the operation were not properly identified as police officers. The board also questioned the use of an informant who, according to Boehm’s report, had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. The board said the informant had been paid an undetermined sum of money that allowed him to leave the state before he could be arrested.
Kreigh’s punishment was reduced to a letter of reprimand and six months probation. Supervision of the Drug Enforcement Unit, which Kreigh had led for 14 years, was turned over to Capt. Kevin Merritt.
Kreigh said he followed all departmental procedures during the October drug operation, and that the disciplinary action was politically motivated.
“I can no longer work in an environment where my boss, an incumbent officeholder, resorts to political subterfuge to damage my reputation and my career in order to help his hand-picked candidate,” he said.
Kreigh said Stone was allowed to submit written questions about the drug operation as part of the outside review. He called Stone’s involvement “inappropriate and highly unethical.” Kreigh said that Capt. Dwayne Carey, who is also running for sheriff, was involved in the October drug bust as acting supervisor, but was never investigated.
Boehm defended the outside review.
“The reason we reviewed the operation is because shots were fired and someone came within inches of being killed,” said Boehm. “That’s the reason I went outside of this department and selected two very respected individuals who have never worked here and had no bias against Ken Kreigh.”
Stone denied Kreigh’s suggestion that he was Boehm’s “hand-picked” candidate and said the sheriff had not officially endorsed anyone.
Kreigh, who said Thursday he will now campaign full time for sheriff, has been employed by the department since August 1982. In addition to leading the Drug Enforcement Unit, he developed and commanded the Boone County Emergency Response Team (SWAT).