Of the six terminations, two occurred on the same day and three occurred within three days, suggesting swift action from the County Sheriff Jerry Asher and prompting the Sheriff’s Department to initiate a division-wide retraining.
In a statement released from his office, Asher announced, “Recent incidents of misconduct by Howard County Jail personnel were reported to administrators and prompted the Criminal Investigation Division to conduct a thorough review resulting in the swift termination of six employees.” Asher went on to confirm, “Two incidents were referred to the Howard County Prosecutor’s office.”
The allegations were levied against Sgts. Jordan Carpenter and Noah Pyke, Cpl. Mychael Salinas and Officers Jonathan Snow, Trevon Johnson and Tyler Swygert, with each officer immediately terminated upon the findings.
The two incidents directed for possible criminal prosecution involved Swygert as named in having participated in an “inappropriate relationship with a convicted felon.”
In accordance with Kokomo jail policies and protocols, upon initial hire, all employees receive extensive training on the department’s ethics policies and codes of conduct, including the “zero tolerance” PREA policy, trafficking with an inmate policy, ethics and professionalism, staff/inmate communications, and relations with inmates.
Of the allegations made against the jailers, at least one incarcerated woman attested that she was the victim of sexual battery in two separate instances involving Pyke and Salinas. During the investigation, Pyke denied all allegations but was found to have violated policy for disobeying a direct order and lying or being uncooperative. He was subsequently terminated.
This same prisoner alleged that Salinas, while escorting this woman to the medical lobby, touched her inappropriately and made sexual remarks to her. Salinas, following an investigation into his actions, was found to have disobeyed a direct order, made inappropriate sexual comments to an inmate, lied to investigators, and committed conduct unbecoming an officer. Salinas was immediately terminated.
A third officer, Trevon Johnson, was accused of trafficking a prisoner, and was also accused of a PREA violation, which included inappropriate touching and participating in a relationship with a prisoner. In addition, Johnson disclosed confidential information to Pyke in reference to the sexual abuse allegations, and as such, was immediately terminated for his actions.
Officer Snow was determined to have disobeyed a direct order and contacted a known felon, a violation of department policy. Snow was terminated following the investigation.
Carpenter was found to have made inappropriate comments to at least two female prisoners subsequently resulting in his immediate firing.
The most serious of the allegations were levied against Swygert for improprieties that involved an inappropriate relationship with a convicted felon. Swygert was immediately terminated and faced possible criminal prosecution by the Howard County prosecutor.
Asher went on to say, “I have a zero-tolerance policy for violations of this nature. The actions of a few employees are not representative of the many men and women who work tirelessly and dedicate themselves to honoring the public’s trust as members of the Howard County Sheriff’s Office.”
Following the misconduct, the sheriff scheduled the division-wide retraining in an effort to review codes of conduct and policies, and he mandated that his training would be received by all guards, as well as medical, kitchen, and clerical staff as of February 29, 2020, according to an office statement.
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