County Attorney not pursuing charges in police computer issue

    County Attorney Arlan Wine doesn’t believe entering a police vehicle to view a police laptop computer should warrant more than a possible scolding.
    “It might be trespassing,” he said on Tuesday.
    His comments came after questions to Chase County Sheriff Kevin Mueller went unanswered regarding a statement the sheriff’s office took, alleging misuse of police computers by Imperial Police Chief Ryan Wisnieski.
    The person signing the statement said he/she received the information from someone else who had “got in (the police car) and looked. That is when he saw what was on the computer,” the statement reads, alleging it was pornography.
    Mueller had been asked if his office planned any further investigation on the validity of the Aug. 1 statement since computer technician reviews found nothing of that nature on the laptops.
    “I have nothing to add to this story. Like I said as far as the county is concerned, this matter is closed,” Sheriff Mueller wrote in an email response.
    After four police laptops and an iPad were taken July 31 by County Emergency Manager Duane Dreiling, who had requested them for a Homeland Security audit, county officials held onto them for  a full week after the allegations of misuse arose.
    After an agreement written by County Attorney Wine was signed by both Wine and Mayor Dwight Coleman, the computers and iPad were returned to the city.
    The agreement states: “Dwight Coleman will promptly deliver the said computers and iPad to computer technicians of the city’s choice for examination of the contents” to determine if there was improper programs on them.
    The technicians found no inappropriate material.
     Even though he wrote the agreement, Wine said, “The check of the computers was not done as we would have wanted.”
    He said he would’ve preferred having a forensic examination of them, but the county’s request for that from the State Patrol was turned down.
    “There is nothing I have to pursue charges against anyone else. It’s a frustrating thing and not a satisfactory resolution,” he said.
    “But someone did something wrong here,” he said.
    Wine said even if the information given in the voluntary statement was false, it was taken by the officer, Deputy Justin Mueller, “in good faith.”
    He agreed Wisnieski was cleared of the allegations, but Wine said he can’t say for sure if the statement given to the sheriff’s office is false.
    Wine said the juvenile signing the statement, whose name was redacted, probably “felt a duty to report” what he/she was told by the other youth, whose identity was also blacked out.
    “I’m not in a position to prosecute someone for a possible false report,” he said.
    Wine didn’t rule out looking into it if the city police investigated and provided him a report.
City officials at regional meeting this week
    City officials expected to speak at a meeting this week that included Emergency Managers in southwest Nebraska.
    The request to discuss the “matter of city police computers” at this week’s meeting came in a letter sent a few weeks ago to both Chase County Emergency Manager Dreiling and County Attorney Wine from Imperial City Attorney Josh Wendell.

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