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Jail committee members exchange angry words
Loud argument in front of sheriff

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Members of the jail advisory committee are getting feisty--with one another.

On a night when the focus was to be on a close examination of the existing facility, the talk instead is about a verbal dust-up among a few committee members that occurred in the foyer of the sheriff’s department.

Tempers flared moments after the group had been given a tour of the Platte County Jail by Sheriff Mark Owen, Cpt. Erik Holland and Cpt. Joe King.

The words were exchanged primarily between committee member Jacque Cox and committee chairman Jim Roberts, though others made comments as well.

Cox and Dagmar Wood, another committee member, were expressing concerns with Roberts about scheduling of meetings and about who was going to be invited to meet with the committee, etc.

Roberts, who had shown glimpses of a quick fuse at another recent meeting, became angry, according to those witnessing the exchange. Cox, in a phone conversation with The Landmark, said she was taken aback by the anger shown by Roberts on Monday night. Cox then declined to discuss the incident in detail.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said by phone on Tuesday.

One committee member contacted by The Landmark referred to Roberts’ tone and his response to the inquiries from Cox and Wood as “crazy behavior.”

Another said the incident ended as suddenly as it had begun.

As of press time for the print edition, Roberts had not returned phone messages left by The Landmark. Late Wednesday afternoon, he did return the call and offered these comments:

"There's a little bit of an ego issue going on. I was caught off guard by it. It has been corrected now," declining to offer further comment or explain how it has "been corrected."

After the exchange, Roberts immediately left the building, though some witnesses told The Landmark Roberts was ready to leave prior to the words.

The sheriff and the two captains were present when the angry words were exchanged but did not intervene or react in any way, witnesses said.

“There was a vibrant discussion between a few members,” Cpt. Holland told The Landmark. “They were discussing scheduling.”

Holland said it appears the topic had been a sore spot among the committee prior to Monday night’s argument.

“Something had been talked about that had gone on before--that we (sheriff’s department officials) didn’t know about. They started talking about scheduling and they kind of got into it. I’m not sure what fueled it.”

Asked if at any point the authorities felt the need to intervene, Holland responded:

“It didn’t get to the point where we would step in. We wouldn’t let anything get dangerous, obviously. It was yelling. It’s not against the law to yell.”

Roberts had openly campaigned to be appointed chairman of the nine-member citizen committee at the first meeting on June 2. He has experience in building private prison facilities, he said that night.

Roberts, of southern Platte County, was appointed to the committee by Beverlee Roper, first district commissioner. Cox and Wood, both of southern Platte County, were appointed to the committee by Jason Brown, presiding commissioner.

The next meeting of the jail committee is set for Monday night at 6 p.m. in the county commission meeting room.

The committee was appointed by the county commission with the intent to come up with a recommendation on potentially expanding the county’s current jail facility. The committee intends to meet throughout the months of June, July and August.

Representatives from Goldberg Group and Weber and Associates, the two firms who worked on the jail study last year and presented a proposed $21 million addition to the jail, are expected to be present for discussion with the committee members at a June 30 meeting, Holland said.