Pine City, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- Some serious accusations are emerging from the Pine County Sheriff's Department following a year long investigation including 12 guns disappearing.
Rick Swift has lived in Pine City since 1984, and used to be friends with Mark Mansavage, the former Sheriff of Pine County.
In fact they used to be bouncers together at the Pine City American Legion.
"He was good with the people, he was out there and talked with the people"
So it was a surprise to Swift when he turned on the news to see his old friend and his administration being accused of some serious allegations.
Robin Cole, the current Sheriff of Pine County, has been investigating several complaints during the past several months.
The citizen allegations include sexual harassment, Domestic Violence, Abuse of Authority, and the misplacement of 12 guns confiscated in various investigations.
"As I have talked with citizens who has obviously been in the county for a long time a lot of very sad stories emerged."
Since this is an ongoing investigation and no charges have been filed, Cole didn't go into detail about the stories he's heard, or the allegations.
He just promised change.
"If that means we have to face that fact that this happened then we face the fact because we can't correct it until we acknowledge it"
Pine County has been assisted in this internal investigation by the Carlton County Attorney's office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Many significant operating changes have been made in the department including changing locks on the property room, installing more internal surveillance video cameras and limiting access to the property room.
Sheriff Cole has also assigned each deputy to a dedicated patrol district to keep his department more organized.
An internal investigation is ongoing .
Fifteen Sheriff’s Office employees have been placed under scrutiny for alleged misconduct.
Criminal charges could be filed and could range from gross misdemeanor to felony charges.
There are also allegations of sexual harassment, use of excessive force, abuse of authority, and domestic violence.
The Sheriff’s Office would not comment on those evaluations.