The Beaver County Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) began an investigation into County Commissioner Dan Camp last week after a Sheriff’s Deputy alleged possible racial bias and harassment.
Deputy David Hunter, who is an African American, believes that Commissioner Camp may have released an audio recording from County 911 Dispatch to the Beaver Countian and then had him followed because of his race. Local officials with the NAACP have spoken to Sheriff Tony Guy, Commissioner Dan Camp, County Solicitor Andrea Cantelmi, and have left a message for Commissioner Sandie Egley as part of their ongoing investigation.
Deputy Hunter had raised the same concerns about Commissioner Camp to the Beaver Valley Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.
One of the complaints stems from events which occurred back in July, as the Beaver Countian was reporting on budget disputes between Sheriff Tony Guy and the Board of Commissioners. This publication had made a request to County Solicitor Andrea Cantelmi for a copy of recorded audio between Deputy Hunter and a County 911 Dispatcher which concerned issues involving overtime — the Sheriff’s Office had been exhausting its overtime budget at a rate that was leading to projected overages for the year.
Following a legal review of the public record, and getting the approval of Commissioners Dan Camp and Sandie Egley, Solicitor Cantelmi released the recorded phone conversation to the Beaver Countian via email.
The Beaver Countian ultimately decided against publishing an article based on the recording at the time, determining it did not warrant a report on its own. Beaver Countian Founder John Paul eventually wrote a detailed open letter to FOP President David Piuri to clear up false accusations about how this publication originally obtained the recording — disinformation which had been spread by supporters of Sheriff Tony Guy.
Given additional controversies now surrounding the recorded conversation, the Beaver Countian is publishing it here for the first time. The first voice heard on the recording is that of a County Dispatcher, the second is Deputy Hunter:
During the course of its reporting about the recording, the Beaver Countian spoke with then-Sheriff’s Office Solicitor Mitchell Shahen who provided the following statement on July 22nd:
“After investigation, it was determined that the phone conversation occurred just after the deputy finished a prisoner transport and that his conversation after receiving the telephone call reflected the general position of the department to minimize the use of overtime. If the deputy did not take the transport, the on call deputy would have been called out and she would have been entitled to a minimum of three hours overtime as per the contract that was negotiated by the County. The statement concerning the ‘switch’ merely reflected that the deputy just completed one transport and was in a position to conveniently begin the second request for transport requested by Conway.”
Commissioner Sandie Egley told the Beaver Countian in a previously unpublished interview from July that she did not feel the statement by the Sheriff’s Office reflected what she heard on the recording.
“When Sheriff Tony Guy says that he has professional, stand-up Deputies who are respected, is this what he’s referring to here? Is this the caliber of people we have? I don’t hear professionalism on that recording. I hear, ‘we can work the system but don’t tell anybody’,” said Commissioner Sandie Egley. “It is clear to me I am the ‘Mrs. Whatever Her Name Is.’ That was a sign of the Sheriff’s Deputies having been instructed to work the system to justify a budget increase. The Deputies only regurgitate what they hear from their boss, so that is the type of conversations he was hearing internally in his department. That recording tells me that is how the entire department is running under Sheriff Guy — trying to work the system. I’m not going to have that.”
Commissioner Dan Camp declined a request from the Beaver Countian at the time for a comment on the matter, and again declined to provide a public comment yesterday when asked about the NAACP’s investigation into him.
A second complaint by Deputy David Hunter alleging possible harassment by Commissioner Dan Camp involved an article the Beaver Countian published on June 28th titled, “Commissioner Camp Calls Foul After Sheriff Guy Says He Is ‘Unable’ To Comply With His Budget.”
The article came as the result of an interview Sheriff Tony Guy had given on the radio stating he was “unable” to comply with an “unrealistic” budget that had been set for him by the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners Sandie Egley and Dan Camp have continuously insisted Sheriff Guy’s budget is more than adequate to perform his core duties, but that Guy has continued to insist on performing functions which are beyond those defined for his office by the Pennsylvania County Code. Commissioner Camp had given the Beaver Countian an interview to refute the claims Sheriff Tony Guy had made on the radio. As part of that interview, he provided this publication with a photograph which had been sent to him by someone who witnessed a Sheriff’s Deputy making a traffic stop — a Deputy who turned out to be David Hunter.
“I don’t believe he is only doing just his core duties,” Camp told the Beaver Countian on June 28th. “He had deputies pulling people over on traffic stops in Bridgewater after 9:00 pm on Friday night […] I don’t have any background in law enforcement but I see what the job description is, and what they’re suppose to do and not suppose to do under Pennsylvania County Code. If you’re shorthanded on what you’re supposed to be doing, you should reorganize to make sure you have the staff to do what you’re required to do under law.”
The Beaver Countian did not include Deputy Hunter’s name in the report as it was not relevant to the central focus of the story.
County Solicitor Andrea Cantelmi told the Beaver Countian yesterday that she has spoken to the NAACP investigator, telling him neither situation had anything to do with race but instead had everything to do with budgetary issues involving Sheriff Tony Guy.
“The release of the recording was not in any way based upon the race of the participants in the conversation and therefore was in no way discriminatory or harassing,” said Cantelmi. “I do not understand how it could possibly even be misconstrued as such […] Sheriff’s Deputies are in the public eye so it was also in no way harassing for someone to take a picture of a traffic stop they happened to see and send it to a Commissioner.”
At no time during the Beaver Countian’s reporting did Commissioner Dan Camp or any other Commissioner reference race.