Investigation: How did a Genesee County Jail deputy engage in sexual misconduct on duty?
Sheriff’s Office beefs up psychological testing among new hires to catch potentially troubling behavior before it starts
FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - A Genesee County Jail corrections deputy was accused of sending explicit messages to a 15-year-old girl online three weeks ago.
That girl was actually an undercover officer from the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team -- or GHOST. The sheriff immediately fired the deputy, who now is facing sex abuse charges.
But how did this alleged sexual predator slip through the cracks and get hired by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office?
“That’s a great question and I think if we had an answer for that, then, we would all take that road,” Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said. “But I think the answer is to have constant accountability.”
Benjamen Reinhart starting working at the jail in July 2019. ABC12 obtained the 24-year-old’s personnel file through a Freedom of Information Act request, which shows a clean work record with no red flags.
The sheriff’s office is working to provide attentive supervisors and is providing fit for duty tests, which now are offering check-ins for officers already on the job.
The sheriff’s rigorous hiring process takes about four to six weeks. Seasoned detectives not only conduct an interview, they talk to the person’s neighbors and take a close look at their social media.
Reinhart passed, which is why Swanson was shocked to catch him allegedly texting a 15-year-old decoy for inappropriate photos while on duty.
“This type of crime, sexual assault, sexual deviancy is so well guarded by those perpetrators,” Swanson said.
Every new sheriff’s office employee now must undergo a psychological evaluation conducted by mental health counselor Harold Love.
“It is difficult,” he said. “If it’s being hidden and if it’s not, I guess a prevalent part of this person’s behavior right now.”
But Love said he’ll have other information used in the hiring process, such as interviews from former bosses, family members, neighbors and background information that can help him draw out red flags to determine if someone is a sexual predator.
“I would be naive to think that we’re going to catch everything,” Swanson said. “The key is, when you catch it, do you catch it soon enough? And do you handle it?”
Because it’s not obvious, Swanson said he’s nervous that one of his current employees also may have slipped through. But he’s hopeful the quick action they took to fire and charge Reinhart will deter others from similar criminal actions.
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