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Sheriff Jensen Defends Decision to Fire Leonhardt

Created: 01/28/2014 7:18 PM KAALtv.com
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- At the Dodge County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, the topic of hiring a new chief deputy was to be discussed, but that was tabled. We did however talk to Sheriff Jim Jensen after the meeting, who for the first time, is defending his decision.

After more than a week of criticism, Sheriff Jim Jensen is standing by his decision to terminate Chief Deputy Mike Leonhardt on the claims that he wasn't loyal. Tuesday, we asked him to clarity what that meant, but Sheriff Jensen remains tight-lipped. "I'm respecting his data privacy, I don't want to invade that," said Sheriff Jensen. He only told us it was based on "professional differences," one's that seem apparent in Leonhardt's statement released last week. Where he says his confidence in the sheriff has “changed dramatically" over the past three years.

"The position is the sheriff's right-hand person. They're at the will of the sheriff," said Sheriff Jensen.

Sheriff Jensen is firm on his choice to remove Leonhardt even as a petition to reinstate him circles around the building. "They can have all the petitions they want, that's not going to change my mind as far as who my chief deputy is,"  said Sheriff Jensen.

As for a replacement, Sheriff Jensen says there's no one in mind for the role yet, primarily because of what's happened in recent weeks. "There's turmoil in my department because of my decision and I would not want to put anybody in that position because their career is at stake then," said Sheriff Jensen.

Again, the decision to appoint a new chief deputy was tabled along with the sheriff's recommendation to make three part-time deputies full-time to fill the man power. We're told this discussion will have to happen before March 20th.