Posted: Mar 2, 2011 6:07 PM by Andy Koen
Updated: Mar 3, 2011 10:39 AM
Chuck Zukowski has been a volunteer deputy with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for eight years. He was fired last month, according to his termination letter, because of his "conducting paranormal and unidentified flying object investigations" and "publicly contradicting ... an official investigation."
The incident in question appears to be the horse mutilations that took place at the Schneider Ranch near Rush last August. Zukowski disagreed with the official findings and said so in both his blog (ufonut.com) and an interview he gave to a Denver television station.
"I know in the letter it says that I contradicted their statement, but I didn't contradict them per se. Where I mentioned El Paso County Sheriff's Department was wrong, I've never, ever done that."
In fact, in both reports he's identified as a paranormal investigator and never disagrees with the sheriff's department by name. But an article posted at the website thehorse.com clearly identifies him as a reserve deputy.
Zukowski says he never represented himself to the author as a deputy, and he doesn't understand why he wasn't questioned about the report before he was fired.
"I would have at least liked the opportunity to go in and defend myself instead of have a couple of deputies show up and take my badge, my ID and my gun."
The sheriff's office says it can't comment on the termination specifically because it's a personnel matter. However, public information officer Lt. Lari Sevene says that sheriff's office employees and volunteers are held to the same standards.
"The code of conduct or the expectations of our reserve staff or any of our volunteers for that matter is absolutely the same as it would be for our paid employees or our sworn employees."
Zukowski says his supervisors never told him which policy he specifically violated. We searched the county's rules of conduct and discovered one provision that limits employees from criticizing the sheriff's office. However, the rule doesn't extend to off-duty, private conversations.
Zukowski says he doesn't plan to pursue the issue in court but has written extensively about it on his blog.