Luke Goosen Null has come forward to speak out against what he calls false accusations made by Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond against the IT Department. The link to Mr. Null's Facebook post was sent to us by a protest organizer close to the family of Hannah Fizer. Hannah was brutally gunned down by Pettis County Sheriff's Deputy Jordan Schutte on June 13th. We have been following the case and doing our best to seek justice for Hannah, even earning ourselves some threats from Sheriff Bond in process. We have verified through GovSalaries.com that Null has been employed with Pettis County (https://govsalaries.com/goosen-luke-null-8913636).
Goosen's statement makes it obvious that Sheriff Bond did not act in good faith when body cameras were installed. It appears that the system was doomed to failure because the IT Department was never given the hardware required to operate the system correctly in the first place, Sheriff Bond was informed of this, and his response was to implement a makeshift solution that was nowhere near adequate, the system inevitably failed, and the Sheriff's Office did not have the software vendor re-install the software after the workstation was fixed. This is in contrast to statements that Kevin Bond gave the media in the days following Hannah's murder.
Following the murder, Sheriff Bond told the media "we had data failure and we also had problems with the devices and those devices have not been replaced." According to Goosen, there clearly were no problems withe the devices, the devices do not need to be replaced, the data failure could have easily been prevented by giving the required hardware to the IT Department, and the IT Department was able to repair the system despite not having what everything they should have had. Bond also said that the devices had been in operation for "I believe nearly a year" when in fact it sound like that is probably not the case, but Goosen did not say exactly how long they were operating for. Bond also claimed that his office was seeking a grant to fund replacement body cameras even though according to Goosen, the cameras don't need to be replaced, and Sheriff Bond misled the public to believe that body cameras were not being used due to lack of funding. We believe that had Jordan Schutte been wearing a body camera that Hannah Fizer would be alive today or Deputy Schutte would be in jail due to undeniable evidence recorded by his body camera. See the video below for Sheriff Bond's explanation of the body camera problem.
Luke Goosen's Facebook post reads as follows:
In the aftermath of the recent Officer involved shooting by a member of the Pettis County Sheriff's office, there have been a number of inaccuracies being levied by Sheriff Kevin Bond as to the incidents and response in regards to his previous body cam system becoming inoperable.
On numerous occasions, Bond has indicated that the Pettis County I.T. Department is in some way complicit in its inoperability. This could not be further from the truth.
Throughout the unrest that followed the officer involved shooting, it became apparent that many of the officers were being targeted by outside individuals and were under an enormous amount of stress and pressure, as well as facing an onslaught of protestors. During this time, I felt it best to remain quiet as opposed to coming forward with the truth out of respect for these men and women and to ensure that an already bad situation was not further inflamed.
As the Sheriff has previously stated, the cameras were purchased by his office at the end of a fiscal year using funds he had put together to purchase this system. It was not a purchase that was ever coordinated or planned in any way with anyone from the I.T. Department prior to them actually being purchased. Upon purchasing the cameras, a "required and recommended hardware" list was provided to me a short time before the install was to take place. At the time, we did not have the resources needed to properly house the body camera software, and more accurately, the space required to properly store, maintain and backup the footage once it was download. This was conveyed to the Sheriff.
The Sheriff then in coordination with the body cam vendor agreed to install the body cam server software and a separately purchased, by the Sheriff, external hard drive on a spare workstation installed in the Sheriff's office. This workstation in no way was adequate to serve in this capacity. All software was installed by outside installers.
The software when initially installed was configured incorrectly and dumped the camera footage directly to the onboard SSD drive in the workstation. After months of this, the SSD eventually failed, rendering the system useless. Whether or not the SSD failed due to the strenuous write and overwrite of camera footage cannot be know for certain, but it is something that is quite common to these types of storage systems. A workstation SSD is not equipped to be used in this manner.
The I.T. staff worked to try and clone the system so it could be used without a complete re-install of the software, but were unable to do so despite our best efforts. The reason this was attempted was because we knew we would not be able to re-install the software on the replaced hard drive once it was put back into service, which we promptly did once we gave up on efforts to clone. I repeat, the workstation that the server software was installed on initially was fixed and returned to service. The Sheriff and a senior member of his staff were notified that we were unable to proceed any further at that point due to the inability of our staff to install the software due to restrictions placed on it by the vendor.
At this point, the hold up became the Sheriff's office calling in their outside vendor for re-installation of the software. This was never done. Why, I do not know, but had the priority of the Sheriff's office truly been to make the system operational once again, there was absolutely no hold up in any way from either the I.T. staff, the County Commission, or the damaged hardware that was replaced by the I.T. staff.
This was the last time the I.T. Department had any input or discussion regarding anything to do with body camera systems until after the recent incident in which I was tasked with working closely with the Sheriffs office and identifying a suitable replacement system and to ensure it was promptly purchased and installed. As of this post, it is my understanding that this system has been ordered by the Sheriff unless something has changed since he informed me it had been ordered.
Furthermore, after working closely with the current County Commission, I take umbrage with statements that they are in any way to blame. Our Commission works hard in doing their best to provide all departments and offices with the tools those offices feel they need to do their jobs.
My intention has always been to stay out of the political fray, and as an I.T. person, it has been largely easy to accomplish. This is the first, and hopefully the last, time I have ever had to produce a public statement in response to false information regarding my department.
At the outset, while difficult, it was in the best interest to remain silent and bite my tongue in light of the potential of danger to the deputies and their families. Now that these inaccuracies are being used to protect ill-gotten political capital for the sake of election, I can no longer stay silent. There have been mistakes I have made during my 14 years at Pettis County, but unlike the Sheriff I have tried to do my best to own up to those mistakes and realize they are my own. It is my hope that the Sheriff can do the same. Thank you. - Luke Goosen, Pettis County I.T. Director
The comments and views in this post are solely mine, and do not reflect the opinions of the Pettis County Commission or any other employee at Pettis County