ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -
The Orange County sheriff's office is changing the way some reports are handled within the department. It stems from an internal investigation into what was known about the animal welfare case at Peaceable Farm in Somerset and when.
Sheriff’s deputies raided the farm in October and charged the owner, Anne Goland, with animal cruelty.
The investigation is confidential because it involves personnel but the sheriff says calls for animal welfare officers will now go through the sheriff's dispatch and any complaints against an officer will be reported directly to their supervisors.
Orange County Sheriff Office Press Release:
On October 18, 2015, I was informed by a number of sources that The Sheriff's Office had received information concerning animal abuse at Peaceable Farm prior to October 17, 2015. These sources indicated that my office had not acted as needed in the investigation.
On October 20, 2015, I ordered an internal investigation on the actions/or inaction taken by my office in the investigation of animal cruelty and abuse on Peaceable Farm in Somerset, Virginia. This investigation was to determine what we knew about Peaceable Farm and when we knew it. The investigation was to determine what/if any changes needed to be made within the office to more effectively investigate animal cruelty cases and to improve the performance of the animal control section.
The final details of the internal investigation are confidential as they deal with personnel issues that cannot be released to the media. However, as a result of the investigation, we have made a number of changes to the operation of the animal control section.
There are several changes that the Sheriff's Office feels will enhance the future performance of the office. The first deals with telephone complaints called into the animal control section. Prior to October 18, 2015, all calls to animal control went to the animal control officers directly. If they weren't in, the calls went to an answering machine.
As of now, all calls are being directed through the Sheriff's Office communications center so that animal control supervisors can be aware of the number and types of calls received.
Secondly, there appears to have been a public misconception that complaints about the performance of animal control officers could only be directed to the animal control officers themselves.
It is important for the citizens to understand that the animal control officers are deputy sheriffs and they report to supervision within the office.
In the future, any complaints about the performance of animal control officers should be reported directly to their supervisors; to include the Captain, Chief Deputy and Sheriff. Checks and balances are now in place to insure the timely and effective investigation of all crimes, be they animal crimes or other types of crimes.
All complaints of animal cruelty will be reported by animal control officers to their immediate supervisor for case tracking purposes.
Lastly, we will be cross training some deputies assigned to other sections of the Sheriff's Office to be certified in Animal Control.
No further comments on the internal investigation.