Brandon Veenstra – Grand Traverse County Corrections

Well, another Grand Traverse County corrections officer bites the dust. This time it’s Brandon Veenstra, and he’s charged with willful neglect of duty. What they’re alleging is that he helped inmates pass notes when he shouldn’t have.

Willful neglect of duty is a violation of Michigan statute 750.478. The law says that willful neglect of duty is not doing a duty enjoined by law on a public officer. Honestly, I’m not sure if affirmatively taking an action, like passing notes, is the same as not doing a duty that’s required. There has to be some kind of duty that’s affirmative – like, keep inmates separated when there’s a no contact order – would be an affirmative action. So there would need to be some kind of affirmative duty to do something before you can neglect to do it. The Upnorthlive article doesn’t have the details of what exactly he neglected to do. Even so, passing notes like 7th graders in 1985 is probably enough to deserve to lose your job.

Grand Traverse County corrections officers have quite a track record. Employee arrests and high-profile suicides drawing attention to poor mental health treatment. But at the same time, the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office claims that they’re perfect and they have no need for accountability measures like dash cams and body cams. It’s incredulous to think that there’s a 180 culture difference between corrections and the sheriff’s office. Of course, the people who don’t think they need accountability need accountability the most. When is the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office going to use dash cams and body cams?

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