Turnbow resigns following alleged ethics violation


McCracken County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mike Turnbow resigned Wednesday after it was revealed that he committed an ethics violation in relation to an administrative scheduling fee related to off-duty work. Turnbow was reportedly on duty when the violation occurred.

The chief deputy is the second-in-command in the sheriff's office.

According to a media release issued Monday morning by Sheriff Matt Carter, a deputy brought the matter to his attention around 7 p.m. on Jan. 7.

"I immediately started checking into their concern, as I believed it could possibly relate to an ethics violation that had been made earlier that same day," the release stated.

After a brief investigation, by Wednesday morning, Carter said he had determined there had been an ethics violation on the part of Turnbow. Carter said Turnbow admitted to the violation and voluntarily turned in his resignation.

However, Turnbow's attorney, Jeremy Ian Smith, said his client did not resign because of an ethics violation but resigned when he was asked to by Carter.

"After spending 40 years, spanning six decades, in law enforcement, McCracken County Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Turnbow chose to resign when the request was made by McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter," Smith said in a released statement. "Dep. Turnbow did not resign because of any unethical or criminal conduct. Dep. Turnbow served at the pleasure of Sheriff Carter, and he has been honored to serve the citizens of Kentucky his entire professional career."

Carter said the investigation will be reviewed by the Kentucky attorney general's office, who asked Carter not to be publicly specific about the ethics violation.

"But I did not want to leave the public in the dark as to exactly what took place," he said. "I felt that if I did, there would just be speculation and false rumors erupt from that."

Carter said, when the investigation is completed, more specific details would be forthcoming from either the attorney general's office or his office.

"It is not uncommon for law enforcement to participate in off-duty security details," he said. "There is a particular structure in place as a nexus to provide payment for those officers. This involved an 'administrative scheduling fee' that had been implied as a charge to an outside entity while on duty.

"... I was unaware of it, but the moment I became aware of it, it was addressed."

Turnbow's law enforcement career spans 40 years, with the last 14 years in the McCracken County Sheriff's Office.

"There is an exceptionally large amount of good that he has done," Carter said. "Every one of us is human. Every one of us is capable of having a lapse of judgement, especially in law enforcement. You are in a situation where you are in a position of trust, in a position of authority."

Carter added he hopes the way the incident was handled brings more community confidence in the openness of his office, adding he hoped that this incident would not reflect negatively on the department as a whole.

"At the end of the day, I hope that it brings a sense of comfort and a sense of assurance to the community that, regardless of who you are, regardless of what your position may or may not be - in law enforcement or not - that we're going to do the right thing," he said.

"I think that this is demonstrated through the officer coming forward; I think it's demonstrated through the actions that I took and how quickly and efficiently - within a matter of hours - this was resolved."

Carter said this is an example of how his office will be run.

"I pledge that we are going to hold ourselves to a high standard," he said. "We're going to be transparent to the community. Sometimes, it's easy to say that, and this is an example of that.

"Doing the right thing is not always easy, but doing the right thing is imperative for the positions that we hold. I just want to give assurance that it's going to be done each and every time."

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