October 18, 2016

Investigation finds evidence of bullying claims against sheriff and deputy

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

Interviews in an investigation into claims against Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger and Lt. Michael Schmitz allege a range of schisms and “rampant fear” in the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office and across departments.
The Village Business Institute interviewed 17 individuals in or formerly in various departments regarding claims of workplace bullying and retaliation initially brought to human resources manager Amanda Willis in May, allegations the investigation substantiated.
Obtained in an open records request by the McKenzie County Farmer, the 90-page investigative report explores those allegations ranging from “a widespread lack of trust” between departments and within the Sheriff’s Office; verbal, emotional and mental abuse; one county employee’s fear for their safety and wellbeing; an alleged Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act breach; and that Schwartzenberger instructed an officer to “stress out” a new deputy to find “his breaking point” with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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