Sheriff Takes Issue With Media, Internet Commentary

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As most of the citizens of Cannon County know by now I was faced with the difficult task of dismissing two deputies from my department last week.

One officer, Greg Fauls, was fired Wednesday, December 8 for poor work performance and failure to conform to departmental requirements. The latest incident occurred on Tuesday, December 8 at 8:06 P.M. when he (Fauls) reported to 911 Dispatch Center that his patrol unit was in a ditch on Gassaway Road. Approximately two hours later at 10:48 records from 911 show that Fauls’ patrol unit was in a ditch on Pea Ridge Road. Fauls had been an employee of the Sheriff’s Department since 2005. His dismissal was in no manner a result of the incident between another officer and his girlfriend two weeks ago at their residence.

On Thursday, December 10 Deputy Aaron Hillis resigned his position when he was served by his girlfriend with an Order of Protection. Hillis had been employed by the Sheriff’s Department since 2006.

Since the dismissal of the two officers my department has been subjected to unsubstantiated allegations of wrong doing by individuals over the internet without them having the courage to sign their names, using fictitious pen names. I challenge them to bring forth evidence of any wrong doing or corruption in my department and I also deny that this department has an image problem.

One such media outlet chose to let one individual challenge the honesty and integrity of our Assistant District Attorney, who has worked tirelessly for the citizens of Cannon County and continues to do. To question this individual’s honesty does not even warrant a response. This blatant attack on his character is irresponsible conduct and both parties should be held accountable.

Finally, the manner in which I have overseen the Sheriff’s Department has also been attacked and I adamantly deny those charges. I do have absolute control over my employees and they have worked hard for the citizens of Cannon County since I came into office September 1, 2006. I constantly monitor all my employees and am in daily contact with them and their immediate superiors or supervisors. If there is a personnel problem within
the department it is addressed promptly.

My office is open to the citizens of Cannon County. I have a duty and responsibility to the citizens to provide them with proper law enforcement in the form of officers that patrol our county, the management our Jail and to make our community safe. This includes the hiring and termination of all employees. I felt the two dismissals were for the betterment of the department and I stand by that decision today without hesitation.

As I stated last week, I welcome any agency who wants to investigate my department, our books are open. We have nothing to hide from anyone.

Sheriff, Cannon County

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Members Opinions:
December 14, 2009 at 2:12pm
It is nice to see The Courier as the mouth of the CCSO and providing them a forum to voice their opinions. A privilege rarely provided to your readers. After spending a few hours on the square Saturday it is very obvious the CCSO does indeed have an image problem by the many people who stopped to talk. So I must take issue with you including Mr. Nichols below statement as fact.

"I also deny that this department has an image problem"

Since you took the liberty to print his Opinion as fact, please accept mine and other Opinion that there is a serious image problem with the CCSO.

I encourage other readers to try and submit their Opinion as to whether they believe there is an image problem with the CCSO

Ken Wilson
aka Purplehaze
December 14, 2009 at 2:48pm
Once again Ken we will attempt to set you straight:

You attempted to post an opinion stating there is "corruption" in the sheriff's department. You gave no proof or evidence to back up your assertion.

We did allow you to post your opinion that, in your opinion, there is corruption in the sheriff's department. Others may, or may not, determine at some point whether it is factual. Unless and until then, there is no truth to it.

Sheriff Nichols is stating his denial that his department has an image problem. That is his opinion; others will judge whether it is factual. It is truthful, therefore, that he denies his department has an image problem.

Both you, and the sheriff, are entitled to your opinions, and we are happy to publish them both.
December 14, 2009 at 10:29pm
In my opinion the CCSO as well as any politician in this county has an image problem. Or could the problems run much deeper than image? Could corruption, greed and self presevation play a part? In my opinion the people of Cannon County are being misrepresented by the "powers that be". I also had hope that the "facts" about the real state of things would surface when the paper changed hands. Instead we continue to see the fluffed up stories that mean little. Corruption does exist here in my opinion. I wonder if it has become so commonplace that people don't know where to start to make it better. I only have one word: VOTE!
December 15, 2009 at 5:50am
Scarlett, we had hope that persons who post opinions on our site would present information of substance, instead of simply blowing smoke. With the non-existent evidence you present, it would be difficult to convict someone in the court of public opinion, let alone a court of law.

Based upon your standards, every person who is up for re-election in Cannon County next year could be voted out of office, and the day new persons enter those positions someone could claim there is corruption, greed, self-preservation and misrepresentation in Cannon County government.
December 15, 2009 at 9:55am
In my OPINION...the photographs released of Deputy Hillis drinking alcohol and in uniform stating he was "riding dirty" in his patrol car and also stating the fact he was intoxicated and beer was his "friend", are totally unbecoming of an officer. These images and statements were posted to the internet for anyone to see. Does this cast a good image on the Sheriff's Office? If we see this kind of judgement early on in someones career, what are we to expect next? When police officers are making a decision on power of arrest and use of force, up to and including deadly force, you want people demonstrating the best judgment at all times, whether on or off duty. Everyone has their right to privacy, but when there's an intermixing of images of a Cannon County Sheriff's uniform, deputy, and patrol car ... with less than professional-type comments, images of drinking or conversations surrounding things that might not be moral, it doesn't present a good image for Sheriff Nichols and his employees. In my opinion, there are many other Sheriff's deputies personal pages on the internet I find to be less than professional. In my opinion, Deputy Hillis should have been immediately disciplined for these actions, including any other officers with similar content. We call these personal pages, however, these pages are free for the public to see. I ask the question...why doesn't Sheriff Nichols have an explanation for his Deputies conduct on social networking sites and the material they post? Has he addressed these issues? In my opinion, this is a true portrayal of who his employees really are. Why do you think employers are looking on social networking sites before the hiring process? Think about it! In my opinion, this is one of the many issues that need addressing at the Sheriff's Office. It is my opinion that these issues DEFINITELY present a bad image for the Sheriff's Office, and will cause the public to scrutinize the department. In my opinion, we have been presented with evidence this is a major issue internally. In my opinion, when we are presented with this material portraying a Cannon County Deputy, why are we not to believe he would commit an act of assault? Why were these things not immediately addressed?
December 15, 2009 at 1:51pm
Like I said it is my opinion. I didn't know I was under oath, in court or representing anyone but myself.
December 15, 2009 at 9:51pm
First, I will address these statements are based on my opinion.

I am not writing this on the pretense of accusing or pointing fingers, I am writing what I believe is morally correct and best suited for the citizens of Cannon County.

Sheriff Nichols, Resign or be Fired!

As the words you allegedly used with Deputy Greg Fauls, resign or be fired. Voters hold the right to terminate you from office by a majority.

If allegations of official misconduct, failure to obey policy, or poor work performance were cast on a single member of your department, either they would resign or be fired, as evidence of the recent release of two Deputies, and several others during your administration.

You have been accused of poor work performance. Is it necessary for us to provide evidence that you have presented us with poor performance?

No it is not.

It would just require a simple cast of a vote in your words "for the betterment of the department."

Sheriff, Would it not be justifiable to listen to the people who gave you a job and address all problems, or to deny their allegations, fail to address them, and continue in your position in spite?

This creates a very unsettling and unprofessional environment among the public. You lose respect and morale that is much needed to for your institution to function properly.

The Sheriff's Office image will continue on a downward spiral with the public, unless you prove that you have addressed all issues and made a great attempt to professionalize your department.

If you choose to be defensive and stand in denial, then the best option is to hand the position to someone who is willing to take on the task.

Sheriff Nichols, this is the appropriate thing to do.

Consider your options.

If you are truly concerned of the citizens of Cannon County and want to protect them, you will take seriously their concerns and issues when they express them,
just like you should when a call is placed to the 911 center for assistance.

If the citizens of Cannon County see that you firmly deny all allegations and you criticize them, this is evidence you are unwilling to make any changes to correct any problems.

You say that the allegations placed against your department are unsubstantiated, and this is your reason for the rebuttal. However, your claims in this press release are also unsubstantiated. You must not forget that some evidence was provided for some of the wrongdoings by members of your department. Photographs do
not lie.

It is not a concern for the public whether any of these
allegations can be supported by evidence, it just boils down to the fact that there is a question of professionalism and trust within your department.

The public is voicing their concern not just for Deputy Hillis. Many issues have been left unaddressed.

To simply say we should not question anyones integrity is not an acceptable response.

Anyone can commit wrongdoings, no matter how great or small. Even police officers are trained to question everyone and their motives, as you should be trained to know.

Just because someone is an officer of the law or the judicial process, it does not exempt them from being questioned, as you seem to state in your press release. It is my opinion that you are indirectly stating your department and District Attorney are above the law itself.

Sheriff Nichols, come forward for the sake of Cannon County!
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