Tim Helder believes in second chances.
While this is a good thing (and I’m not being facetious is any way here), his belief in second chances, in forgetting the past, may ultimately prove detrimental to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
There hasn’t been much of a firestorm yet - if there even will be - over Helder’s hiring of a former Fayetteville city deputy police chief who was suspended in March of this year after an investigation substantiated a claim by a department employee that alleged inappropriate behavior on his part.
The investigation discovered that 10 women working for the city had reported inappropriate contact with Tracey Risley.
This behavior included touching, hugging, massaging and rubbing.
The day after he was suspended, Risley turned in his resignation.
Just two years ago the Washington County Sheriff’s Department was the subject of a lawsuit which claimed that Tim Helder and others tolerated male employees openly talking about sex and watching strip searches of female prisoners.
Watching strip searches of female prisoners.
The lawsuit, which originally claimed sexual harassment, was later changed to retaliatory firing after the female deputies were removed from their jobs.
Though the Sheriff’s office admitted no wrongdoing, the case was settled earlier this year for $395,000.
Neither the lawsuit nor Risley’s sad departure from the Fayetteville Police Department gave Helder a moment’s hesitation.
Quoted in the Northwest Arkansas Times, Helder said, “I’m sorry about what happened and it’s something he’s hopefully learned from.”
Hopefully? Hopefully? Don’t you know? Did you at least ask him?
He went on to say that, “Perception is bigger than reality.”
Yeah, those pesky perceptions.
Okay, Sheriff, since you brought up the matter of perceptions, I suppose it is fair for everyone to play that game now.
What sort of image do you want the Washington County Sheriff’s Department to have?
What sort of message are you sending to the women who work for you?
What sort of message are you sending to the women of Washington County?
Well, hopefully, you have thought about all of this. And hopefully, you will have some answers when folks come calling, looking for more coherent answers than the ones you gave this week.
On the Air with Nate Allen
Long-time Arkansas sorts writer Nate Allen will be my guest this coming week.
Allen, who has been covering the Arkansas Razorbacks for several decades, talks about his many years of sports writing, and the changes he has seen over the years.
It is a fascinating discussion that covers many different areas that even the non-sports fan would find intriguing.
Show days and times:
Monday - (7pm)
Tuesday - (noon)
Fayetteville Public Access Television is shown on Channel 218 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville, and on Channel 99 of AT&T’s U-Verse, which reaches viewers from Bella Vista to Fort Smith.
Quote of the Day
“When will I learn? The answers to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle. They're on TV.” - Homer Simpson