RuCo deputy terminated by sheriff

A Rutherford County Adult Detention Center deputy was terminated May 10 after he allegedly brought marijuana, tobacco and a cell phone to inmates during the past month, Sheriff Robert Arnold said Tuesday.

Arnold terminated Deputy Keith Knowles for allegedly bringing contraband into the jail and for conducting himself in a manner unbecoming to an officer.

Knowles joined the Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer June 23, 2008.

“It is very disappointing to me to have a deputy with a long career with the sheriff’s office allegedly bring contraband to inmates,” Arnold said.

The Sheriff’s Office received information earlier this month that an officer brought a cell phone and tobacco to inmates, which prompted officials to probe into the matter.

“We immediately launched an investigation and determined Officer Knowles allegedly was bringing contraband into the facility,” Arnold said.

Lt. Nathan Pagel, of the Office of Professional Responsibility, interviewed Knowles, who gave a statement about his involvement. As a result of those statements, officials said Knowles was terminated from the department.

“We will present all our evidence to the district attorney’s office for review of prosecution,” Arnold said.

Information about the operation was delayed until today while an investigation was conducted.

While Knowles was being interviewed, Arnold and officers from patrol, the Felony Arrest Search Tactical team, Criminal Investigation Division, Interstate Crime Enforcement, Active Crime Enforcement Unit, K-9s, School Resource Officers and Detention Division thoroughly searched more than 800 inmates and their living areas and pods for contraband.

“It is my goal as sheriff that inmates are kept in a humane environment free of contraband from the outside,” Arnold said.

Arnold thanked the officers who helped conduct the search, which resulted in some cigarettes and tobacco being confiscated from various inmate quarters.

“I feel that all of the officers who were involved in the search did an outstanding job,” he said.