INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 28, 2014, 06:16 PM

Former Deputy Jerry Arneson is forced to step down after a missing person search was delayed

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - The Richland County Sheriff has asked a deputy to step down after the sheriff says the deputy used poor judgment in Abercrombie's missing teen case.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - The Richland County Sheriff has asked a deputy to step down after the sheriff says the deputy used poor judgment in Abercrombie's missing teen case.

Former deputy Jerry Arneson was the first to get called when 15-year-old Abby Alt went missing.

The search for 15-year-old Abby Alt began almost a full day after she was first reported missing.

The Richland County sheriff says the deputy who took the missing person call delayed the search by not notifying his supervisor.

Larry Leshovsky/ Richland County Sheriff: "Disappointment I guess on my part."

Sheriff Larry Leshovsky says instead of notifying a supervisor immediately, Arneson took matter into his own hands.

Leshovsky: "At that point, it kind of stopped."

It wasn't until the next day, when a media alert and code red went out and a community wide search for Abby started in Abercrombie.

Leshovsky: "There was some real problems with this as far as him making that determination himself. To me, that was really poor judgment and ended up in the ultimate delay of this search taking place."

Leshovsky has since stripped former deputy Jerry Arneson of his badge and demoted him to a correctional officer.

He says Alt was struggling with mental health issues when she disappeared.

They found her in a ditch outside of town almost a day later. Snow on the ground, freezing conditions, but still alive.

Leshovsky: "The delay here, we could've had much worse circumstances as to the outcome and in this particular case it ended up that the young lady was found."

Fortunately Abby is recovering and has been released from the hospital.

Her family would not comment, but Leshovsky says in cases like this where time may mean the difference between life and death it's his responsibility to take action.

Leshovsky says he's changed the office's policy.

When missing person calls come in, supervisors must be notified right away.

Tags: