Just over a month after Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Farmer's name was thrust into the spotlight for his attendance at the pro-Trump rally preceding the U.S. Capitol siege on Jan. 6 and for allegations of racial bias in his drug investigations, he has been cleared by an independent investigator of any major wrongdoing.
Franklin County Sheriff Chris Quire has reassigned Farmer from narcotics to general investigations and issued him a letter critical of his actions.
Carl Christiansen, a retired FBI agent who runs the company Advanced Investigative Systems (AIS), wrote in a report to Quire that after interviewing more than 30 people and analyzing several official documents he found no substantive evidence that Farmer broke any laws or took part in "racial bias." Both of those actions were alluded to in a letter last month from all five Franklin County public defenders that called on Quire to "re-evaluate" Farmer's role at the department.
"I did not uncover any evidence that supports the myriad of claims made by the public defenders," Christiansen wrote, "... There is simply no evidence I have uncovered suggesting Farmer engaged in any criminal acts or other improprieties while attending the Washington, D.C., event."
It is unclear with whom Christiansen spoke over the course of the investigation.
Christiansen did find that some of Farmer's posts on Facebook constituted a violation of the sheriff's office's social media policy and that he was possibly insubordinate for posting about the rally after a commander told him not to.
Christiansen recommended that Quire take the following actions:
Determine the appropriate level of disciplinary action concerning Farmer's violation of social media policy and insubordination.
Determine the appropriate future assignment for Farmer within the sheriff's office.
Revisit the department's social media policy and revise it as necessary and ensure employees are reminded of the policy on an annual basis.
- Institute a robust background investigation when hiring employees.
Implement annual performance appraisals that are documented in personnel files.
Quire said that his office has responded to all of the recommendations. He wrote a letter to Farmer critical of his social media posts, has trained all employees on social media conduct, reassigned Farmer and said that his administration revamped the application process. He also said that performance appraisals will be done annually for each employee.
"We take those complaints seriously," Quire said. "That’s why I hired an investigator ... . Hopefully people understand what happened."
Quire had previously reassigned Farmer to administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
This is a developing story. The State Journal will continue to update.