Kevin Burns has not abandoned his run for Weber County Sheriff, despite having recently been forced out of his job as chief deputy for poor oversight of an evidence room technician who was stealing drugs seized in investigations.
In a lengthy Facebook post published Friday morning, Burns said he was forced out “by a vindictive, politically motivated attempt to blame me” for the evidence room blunder.
“The things that are said about me there, they don’t reflect the overall big picture of what the evidence room was,” Burns told The Tribune on Friday. “There were things that I could have done better, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t doing anything with the situation. I think that is just misleading.”
Following an internal investigation, an evidence room technician was fired in January. Burns, her direct supervisor, remained employed until this week. A news release sent out by the sheriff’s office states that an audit on the evidence room was conducted and turned up troubling information, which Burns ignored, as were multiple complaints by investigators and prosecutors about the handling of evidence.
“The investigation found the supervisor had violated multiple policies during his supervision of the evidence room,” the release states. “These policies include: neglect of duty, failure to supervise, failure to report incompetent work, omitting information and failure employee, failure to report damage to the evidence room and disparaging remarks about fellow staff.”
The release states that as a result of the investigation, Burns no longer works for the sheriff’s office.
However, in Burns’ Facebook post he claims he retired after being given an ultimatum to leave voluntarily or be fired, resulting in a hit to his pension.
Burns said Friday that he isn’t sure if the force-out is because he is running for sheriff or if he is also being used as a scapegoat for the theft of drugs from the evidence room. But he said he has a 28-year history with the sheriff’s office and Sheriff Terry Thompson, and their relationship has always been strong.
“No action was taken against me until I announced that I was running for Sheriff last month,” Burns said on Facebook. “Within a few weeks of that announcement, I was under investigation for failing to identify the employee’s crimes sooner.”
Burns was promoted by Thompson from lieutenant to chief deputy in December.
“To assassinate my character like that was just uncalled for,” he said.
With Thompson not running for reelection, Burns said he thinks his ouster after announcing his campaign is due to another candidate, but he declined to elaborate.
Thompson declined to be interviewed, but did release a brief statement in response to Burns’ allegations.
“I stand by the thorough and in-depth investigation that was done here and I stand by the conclusion and findings and my determination on what needed to be done based on those findings,” the statement says. “That’s the truth, and that’s where I will leave it.”
Burns admits he could have done a better job, but also said he had fought to improve the management of the evidence room but was shot down by his superior.
“I, like other supervisors before me, saw problems with the evidence room and tried to fix them,” Burns wrote. “I made a budget request for security cameras to be installed in the evidence room, but that was denied. I made requests for more employees to help with the evidence room, but those were denied.”
But Burns said Friday that the suggestions he made “seemed to fall on deaf ears.” He’s willing to accept responsibility to his mistakes, he said, but it’s not fair to take the fall for an entire department.
Burns is among five candidates seeking the seat being vacated by Sheriff Terry Thompson. Challenging Burns is David MacInnes, Ryan Arbon, Troy Arrowsmith and Matthew G. Bell. All are running as Republicans.
“I have a good, positive track record in leadership,” Burns said Friday. “I do not want this to define me. I have a plan to more forward with the evidence room to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. “
The primary election is June 26.