New sheriff must clean up Clay County
The Kansas City Star
On Jan. 1, Paul Vescovo will become — literally — the new sheriff in town.
That’s when he will take over as leader of the Clay County sheriff’s office and its more than 100 deputies, making it one of Missouri’s largest law enforcement operations.
One of Vescovo’s first orders of business should be to make sure every one of those deputies understands that sexual harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated.
Current Sheriff Bob Boydston a few months ago fired four male deputies after an internal investigation into accusations of sexual harassment in the agency.
Following that, a former female deputy alleged in a civil lawsuit that six male co-workers had subjected her to unwanted sexual advances and harassment. The lawsuit paints a gruesome picture, contending that officers sworn to uphold the law were violating it in outrageous fashion. One allegation was that a fellow deputy sent the woman a text photo of his genitals. It’s also alarming that supervisors reportedly did little to stop the harassment.
The Star endorsed Vescovo in the Nov. 6 election against Boydston, emphasizing the need for more professional leadership in the department.
In an interview Friday, Vescovo said he would work hard to improve morale in the agency and call on veteran officers to mentor the large number of younger deputies. He also emphasized he will reinforce training with deputies about how to avoid sexual harassment complaints, something he said the department did when he previously served as sheriff before Boydston, from 2001 through 2008.
It’s also Vescovo’s duty to put in place a command staff that will not laugh off future allegations of sexual harassment. All Clay County residents must know their sheriff’s office is strictly following the law on this crucial matter.