Recent news of the pending lawsuit against Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard, filed on behalf of Gary DeMercurio and Justin Wynn (Coalfire Labs, a Colorado-based cybersecurity firm) after they were rightfully arrested being caught having broken into the Dallas County Courthouse, has the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association left scratching our heads and frustrated. By all accounts, a crime was committed and the proper crime prevention/deterrence protocols detected the breach and allowed for law enforcement intervention.
When a publicly elected official is sued for enforcing the laws in his county, and held accountable for contracts and agreements that he was never a party to and never made aware of… Moreover, when admitted mistakes are made by the Judicial Branch of the state of Iowa, who hired these gentlemen to “test” the security of their cyber network, none of this encompasses nor negates the scope of the Dallas County Sheriff’s oath of office.
We, as citizens of the state of Iowa, should be justifiably proud of the work that Sheriff Leonard and his staff performed that evening in responding to the burglary. No one was hurt, shot, or treated improperly. They were safely arrested and taken to jail, booked and allowed to work out the details of their contract from the confines of this secure location. This seems to make sense. Our security protocols to prevent the loss of public documents, loss of courthouse security, and protect the public interest in Dallas County that evening worked flawlessly, and now Sheriff Leonard’s forthrightness is being questioned in a frivolous and costly-to-defend lawsuit as a result of diligently doing his job and upholding his oath.
We, as a state association, stand firmly behind Sheriff Leonard and his staff. We stand by his actions on the evening of September 11, 2019 and support to our last breath every elected sheriff’s obligation to protect their county courthouse and its physical security. Further, we acknowledge the dramatic overreach by the state in assuming that because they may have offices located in our county courthouses that they may have some say in how those courthouses are or should be secured. This is county business and solely the codified responsibility of the county sheriff.