BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Six deputies have left the McKenzie County Sheriff's Office since the sheriff was reinstated two months ago.
Gov. Doug Burgum reinstated Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger following his removal proceeding on allegations of bullying and retaliation.
"Sheriff Schwartzenberger's reinstatement and return to his elected position is his opportunity to lead with humility, integrity and respect," Burgum said, "and to treat every employee, every elected official and every citizen with fairness."
Deputy David Christensen said that after he testified in an investigation of Schwartzenberger, he faced retaliatory comments and has been passed over for promotions and specialty trainings.
He quit earlier this week along with two other deputies. Christensen told the Bismarck Tribune morale has been "extremely bad" and that he plans to file a state labor complaint and pursue a lawsuit.
"I hope that other people understand what goes on at this agency, and it's not a reflection of law enforcement everywhere," Christensen said. "There's still a lot of good officers at that agency."
Schwartzenberger said he gave everyone a fresh start after he was reinstated in August. He said if deputies quit the department that's their choice. One deputy decided to retire after 24 years with the department.
Schwartzenberger plans to run for re-election in 2018. He's scheduled for a February trial on a misdemeanor related to nearly $1,000 in unauthorized expenditures on a county credit card at a Las Vegas sheriffs' convention in 2015.