Friday, December 08, 2023

Wheeler responds to executive sessions recordings

Staff Writer | November 15, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Following the discovery that a Bonner County Sheriff’s deputy has been recording during Bonner County commissioners’ executive sessions, Sheriff Daryl Wheeler explained the reason why the deputy has been instructed to do so and what happens with those recordings.

Wheeler reiterated that the reason the deputy is at the meetings has to do with a protection order that Commissioner Asia Williams has against Commissioner Steve Bradshaw for alleged threats he made against her.

“The judge's order of protection in this case is very unique,” Wheeler said. “His order stated, ‘Respondent may attend commissioner meetings with petitioner but shall possess no firearms or other weapons at such meetings or on any other county-owned property, and shall submit to searches to verify the absence of weapons.’”

The sheriff also said there is a stay away order in effect which he said states, "Respondent [Bradshaw] shall not, even if invited by the protected person(s): knowingly remain within 300 feet of the protected person(s) [Williams] residence and workplace, Bonner County Administration Building.”

“Sandpoint Police is not obligated nor willing to search Commissioner Bradshaw for firearms or weapons prior to attending commissioner meetings,” Wheeler said. “After the permanent order was put into force, my office, the prosecutor's office and Commissioner Bradshaw discussed and agreed on putting a procedure in place so Commissioner Bradshaw could be searched prior to entering the Bonner County Administration Building.”

Wheeler said he assigned Lt. Tony Riffle to conduct the searches of Bradshaw and personally attend the commissioners’ meetings when Bradshaw is attending the meetings in person. Additionally, the sheriff said he instructed the lieutenant to operate his body camera during the meetings, including executive sessions, when both commissioners were physically present.

“This procedure was set up to protect both commissioners in case there was an allegation that a violation of the protection order was committed,” Wheeler said. “Those body cam videos create a permanent record and if needed, can be introduced into a court proceeding, should it be necessary.”

In response to many voicing concerns that these recordings were being taken to be shared with other staff or members of the public, Wheeler said only Riffle has access to the recordings once they have been uploaded to a private server.

“No other staff has access to those videos,” the sheriff said. “None of those meeting records have been viewed by me or any other person.”

Recent Headlines