Trevis Mayfield

Trevis Mayfield

On Thursday, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department fulfilled our second open records request for the call histories of three taxpayer-owned cell phones in the department. 

And the records matched exactly what we had gotten from them previously. 

For that, we are glad.

The first set of records we received from the department looked different from telephone records we received from other entities responding to a similar request. An out-of-state Verizon employee we consulted said the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department documents looked as if they had been cut and pasted. And, indeed, they had been. 

On Thursday, Deputy Brandon Beck walked staff members Kelly Gerlach and Nancy Mayfield through the process he used to isolate the information for the days we asked to see. That process, done through a Verizon business account webpage, allowed a monthly bill to be downloaded into an Excel file. Beck was then able to copy and paste the information from the days we requested into a separate file. 

The printout of that information did not contain the official Verizon insignia, which, again, was different from other records we received. 

As I said last week, the different format and lack of insignia didn’t mean the information provided the first time was inaccurate. But in the months of covering a story about how police and the justice system handled an incident involving Assistant County Attorney Amanda Lassance drinking and driving and getting away with it, we have received conflicting information about the amount of time Jackson County law enforcement was on the scene and its interaction with Lassance. Body camera video that captured only a portion of the officer’s time on the scene was deleted and then later recovered.

So, as I said, we find ourselves being hypervigilant in our assessment of the answers and information we receive when we ask questions. While it is sometimes uncomfortable, we believe our process must be thorough and complete, and we are afraid to trust too much.

We appreciate Deputy Beck taking the time to show us the sheriff’s department’s process in how it retrieved the phone records. Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder, who videotaped the meeting at the law center, asked if the Sentinel-Press would be publishing a correction or clarification in this space. 

There is nothing to correct, but we will clarify that the information from the records provided Thursday was accurate.

As I wrote in this space last week, once you stop trusting someone, it’s hard to start again. But it should also be said that a lack of trust is not evidence that information is untrue.