On January 8, 2019, Grand Traverse County Jail employee Brandon Veenstra was charged with willful neglect of duty. The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor’s Office charged him. They alleged that he facilitated communication between two jail inmates which is against policy.
The court entered a warrant for Veenstra’s arrest. He was placed on bond. He lost his job. He had to go to court and hire an attorney.
Fast forward. On April 18, 2019, the Grand Traverse Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the charges.
On April 19, 2019, Traverse City Ticker reported that Grand Traverse Jail Administrator Todd Ritter resigned. The article cited “possibly policy and procedure violations.”
Here is the court ledger from Veenstra’s case:
The dismissal language says, “Upon further investigation, the people are unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware of the no-contact order between the involved inmates.”
Isn’t that something that you would have, should have investigated long before you authorized charges? What about the timing of the dismissal and the captain’s resignation? Why do we know so little about the reasons for Ritter’s resignation?
There are no charges for Ritter in the 86th District Court at this time. Is it possible that the employee faced firing, criminal charges and a press article to make it as embarrassing as possible while the higher up gets a quiet retirement stating resignation with pension intact? Was Veenstra’s defense going to be – wasn’t me, talk to the higher ups – so it was quietly dismissed so as to save department embarrassment? It’s also possible that the two events are completely unrelated. Until GTSO tells us more, we just don’t know.
Do policy violations matter? When policies exist for a reason and GTSO jail has a reputation for inhumane treatment (lack of access to mental health treatment and medication, denial of basic sanitary items), do policy violations put lives at risk? Why does Sheriff Bensley continue to insist that suicide attempts and mental health suffering at the jail is the fault of the mentally ill people, and not the fault of policy violations?
Hits to articles on the subject on this website are way higher than average, so I have a feeling there’s more to all of this than is public at this point.
Thank you, anonymous tipster for pointing out the story.